(Champlin Hall Media)
Arpeggiated guitar parts are so mid-'90s. Back in the day when Jade Tree ruled the world, sodden songs by bands like Christie Front Drive, Mineral and Jimmy Eat World had the 7" hounds and scarf-wearing, Promise Ring kids in a euphoric tizzy. And those carefully plucked boney notes from those sloppy Barre chords? Damn near expected from an emo band.
Of course, fourfa.com--the definitive source on the now-cursed "E" genre--calls the Sunny Days and Texas Is The Reasons of the world "post-emo indie rock." A semantic clunker, sure, but that's what Raleigh quintet The Radio Silence specializes in. It's melodramatic stuff, effusively, almost performatively, candid. That's the point: This is about feelings--and how they feel.
Heartfelt, if pretty overwrought and a bit too gushy, Narrative is a confident song cycle, roving between droney guitar balladry, sweeping arpeggio rock and depressed crunch in measured strides. Scott Andrews' diary-page lyricism suits the sound well. His knack for laying it all on the table through awkward and jagged bursts of young-guy emotion might sound out of place backed by anything that wasn't so dour and melancholic. Here, it all makes sense.
"Police Station, 5 AM" is the album's musical highlight, a careful figure that repeats, tracing wavy lines over itself with chugging drums and bee-buzz synth line. The repetition--a near-drone--handles the dirty work. Alternately, "You Are Safe Now" is a slow burner, growing and stretching until it breaks apart. It separates itself from other post-emo indie by staying a simple course. No flowery divergences. A straight line.
And it's that directness, threading through the best spots on the record, that draws the listener in.