Sound — 7
The Graduate should already have a strong backing thanks to the beauty of college radio. In 2006, its EP Horror Show was named the #1 most added in college radio, not to mention that the band has also graced the cover of CMJ Magazine. So are they worth the hype? The Graduate's debut full-length record Anhedonia does have its moments, but some may find it all a little too familiar. This is not to say that there aren't some inspired and technically interesting moments along the way, particularly from guitarists Matt Kennedy and Max Sauer. The record starts out with what is probably not the best track on Anhedonia called Sit & Sink. Even so, it immediately showcases what are the standout aspects of the band. Sit & Sink will likely find a home in the world of radio or video airplay thanks to vocalist Corey Warnings excellent vocal harmonies that are used throughout. As far as the guitar work is concerned, this is more of a pop-rock band and there aren't any pinch harmonics or manic shredding. Rather, guitarists Kennedy and Sauer tend to play subtle, yet effective riffs that play continuously beneath the verses and choruses. Surround Yourself is a mellower song and takes on a more restrained approach until the buildup at the end. There is an interesting guitar line that is played underneath the chorus, and it finally gets to stand out on it's own in the final seconds of the song. In fact, the guitar almost has a very cool computer-like quality at times and it's fun just trying to figure out how they tackled it, whether with effects or just skill. The guitar line is the highlight of the song because it doesn't necessarily fit with the overall ballad-like approach. There is somewhat of a derivation of that same guitar riff in the following song Interlude, which fades in softly add slowly. Interlude works as a perfect follow-up to Surround Yourself because of the similar guitar styles, and it is further strengthened by haunting background vocals in a minor key that are layered on top of it all. The band really shines with this kind of experimentation and will hopefully do more interludes on the next album.
Lyrics — 8
The Graduate does have a heavy share of, dare I say, emo-esque lyrics, but they balance those out with some interesting songs like Doppelganger, which takes on a very different situation. Doppelganger features a scene where the singer seems to be unsure of his surroundings and uses dialogue to convey his confusion. Warning sings, And a stranger cried out, 'What am I doing here?' I'll be damned, you brought the muscle in! It's a pretty puzzling scene, but the different lyrical format makes it one of the most intriguing songs on the record. Surround Yourself is one of tracks that delve into love and introspection, and the themes may grate one some listeners' nerves. Warning sings, On our walk Saturday; You said you might not stay; If you had a chance to see how your life would look; With love for someone constantly -- would it still be me? Although some might find them a bit too sentimental, there are still plenty will appreciate these candid, emotional lyrics.
Overall Impression — 7
The Graduate will most definitely attract it's share of fans with its radio-friendly repertoire (and it already has). At times that means they can sound a bit too much like what is already out there, but with unique little additions like Interlude (which is exactly that and has no words) the band proves that it's not afraid to take few risks. Vocalist Warning has a very pleasing voice and excels in harmonies, and in many cases that ability makes the weaker songs a bit more attention grabbing. Guitarists Kennedy and Sauer deserve the most credit for taking the album to a different level. They do succeed at creating several memorable moments along the way, and the band will hopefully bring their work even more into the forefront come the next release.