Sound — 7
Infectious melodies and a strong vocalist (Zach Webb) are prominent on It's Alive's debut record Human Resources, which although has its share of rock-oriented moments, shouldn't alienate fans of pop music. Writing memorable choruses obviously plays a key role in attracting an audience, and the band does deliver in that aspect. At the same time, it's hard to shake a few comparisons during the listening process. Many of the song intros on Human Resources springboard from Linkin Park's characteristic synth-driven moments. It's Alive's songs aren't carbon copies of Linkin Park's material through and through, but it's still hard to concentrate on other aspects of the material when your mind keeps finding similarities to the Chester Bennigton-fronted group. On the band's web page bio, it mentions that Webb is often drawn toward back of the throat singers like Kurt Cobain and Billy Corgan interesting choices given he and his bandmates' personal approaches. Webb actually veers off in a very different direction, taking on the harmony-heavy style of such vocalist like Saosin's Cove Reber. The band follows a similar path, preferring a produced, tight sound versus the grunge/gritty rock of Nirvana. Rather than the tracks Pieces, The Bottom, and Refuge From the Wreckage conveying a sense of attitude, their selling point is the combination of grand choruses and an infectious pop-rock quality. If you cue up Back Into The Rain, Questions, or Here's To You, that's when the Linkin Park comparisons come into play. It's not such a terrible thing to evoke images of a widely popular band like Linkin Park, but at the times the beats/samples heard in these particular intros are so familiar that you lose sight of the fresh ideas that It's Alive might deliver during the remaining part of the songs. Granted, you could argue that the band does those intros original or not work for them in the end. Of the standout tracks on Human Resources, there is one that allows the guitars to take the forefront a bit more. Liar is undoubtedly the band's heaviest offering with a wall of distortion-rich power chords during the first moments, with some extremely interesting harmony choices to enhance the chorus. Stealing the show (and perhaps the anti-rock number) is Can't Love Me, a laid-back-yet-sleek track that features a duet with Carolyne Neuman. Webb and Neuman's vocals blend incredibly well, almost creating an Imogen Heap quality in moments.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrical content leans heavily on the standard love themes, but it generally is a good fit for It's Alive. Pieces is a solid example of what you'll be hearing on the album with lines like, She loves the taste of pain; And it's clear she's already used; I somehow find in her this easy, kind of love; This love is deepening. Later in Here's To You Webb ponders, After all is said and done; Am I still the one that's numb? If you tend to steer clear of songs that reflect upon the state of love (and lost love for that matter), Human Resources may lay it on a bit thick.
Overall Impression — 7
It's Alive is a fairly young band that has plenty of time for growth, but Human Resources certainly has its share of memorable melodies. Whether it's intentional or not, the multiple songs featuring Linkin Park-like intros do actually detract from all of the fresh ideas that the band is bringing to the table. Between the charismatic vocal delivery, big choruses, and a sleek audio mix, however, Human Resources should still appeal to fans of bands like Paramore and of course Linkin Park.