Against the Current are a three piece pop rock group from New York made up of lead vocalist Chrissy Costanza, guitarist and backing vocalist Dan Gow with Will Ferri on the drums. They made a name for themselves through YouTube, by doing covers of famous songs often with other up-and-coming musicians such as Alex Goot and Sam Tsui, (Costanza also has her own YouTube channel she uses for vlogging and beauty tutorials which also got her name out). Having spent a few years on covers (their version of Chocolate by The 1975 is well worth a listen) and a couple EPs, In Our Bones is their first full length album.
Against the Current are definitely a pop-rock band and it’s easy to see many of the mainstream principles of pop-rock in their music from Ferri’s precise drumming, to the repeatable, catchy choruses and Costanza’s commanding vocals. Indeed it is Costanza’s vocals that are equally impressive when channelling fiery, earnest or mastering the more catchy pop chorus.
The album opens strongly with Running With The Wild Things a high-paced, anti-establishment (particularly anti-education) song, with a catchy chorus drawing the listener along, all held together by Ferri’s persistant drum beat. The song in many ways says nothing new, the lyrics are a fairly archetypal teenage rebellion. Unsurprisingly, the band’s name kind of implies rebellion (though it actually comes from the last line of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby). Nevertheless, Costanza manages to pull it off without it becoming cringey or forced, marking a promising start. The sound of the band has clearly developed since their EPs as well as their range, whilst Running With The Wild Things is just a development of their EPs style, other songs such as In Our Bones and Forget Me Now showcase a different kind of sound. In Our Bones is probably the most stripped back and acoustic track. Forget Me Now on the other hand is a strong pop song more reminiscent of Echosmith or Katy Perry (who Costanza claims along with John Mayer as a musical influence) than Paramore (whom they share a record label with), yet whilst it fills most pop-tropes, hook-laden, catchy chorus etc it remains lyrically clever and is better musically than most of Perry’s clichéd and overdone attempts, like Roar.
All albums have their weaker tracks and this one is no exception with the slightly artificial One More Weekend, experimental In Our Bones and the simply bland Young And Relentless, however the album is saved from falling into mid-table obscurity (excuse the sports metaphor) by a strong second-half beginning with the summery, catchy generally pleasant Runaway. It is the next song Brighter which really tries to set the tone for the second half, the only song on the album to have been on a previous EP, yet it has been redone for the album. The slower pace allows Costanza’s vocals to shine and the uplifting dream chasing topic comes across as emotional and genuine even though it’s so commonly done. Wasteland is a song that grows the more you hear it with a strong vocal line and some well produced synths accompanying the guitar and drums in the background. Blood Like Gasoline on first listen is probably the most memorable song on the album with the electronic sounds from Wasteland, a prominent, pulsating drum beat and a very catchy, memorable chorus. The song in some ways would not be out of place as a slightly darker track on Taylor Swift’s 1989 (which coming from me is a high honour). Roses and Demons end the album well and are pleasant but there are more memorable songs. Demons does show a slightly softer side to their music which is a far more successful attempt at softness than In Our Bones.
All in all, its an impressive first album from Against The Current, whilst it’s a pop-rock album unlikely to be earth-shaking, it makes an enjoyable listen and with some very strong songs on there, suggest there may be even better yet to come.