Negative Space – Storylines

Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County is known more for its thriving Amish population than its pop-punk bands, but local band Negative Space is aiming to change that, and might well succeed. Having played over 2,000 shows since their start in 2001, Negative Space has exploded as a power pop force to be reckoned with. Siting influences from Rush to Relient K to Billy Joel to Sugarcult, Negative Space has created a powerful sound which draws from its influences, but clearly stands on its own two creative feet.

As a title like Storylines would suggest, Negative Space’s new album is written autobiographically, addressing the good and bad times the band has faced together in a tour de force of obvious maturation. “We’ve been overwhelmed by debts, changed our share of transmissions, and tires…gotten our hands dirty. Whether having to choose which bill is more important to pay for the month or dealing with the loss of friends that are dear to us, we’ve had to overcome it all together,” says Negative Space lead singer Josh Nice.

Storylines kicks off with scratchy guitar riffs provided by guitarists Rick Lienhard and Britain Roda that launches into an explosion of sound. This first track, “Diaries,” sets the album’s tight and poppy sound, standing on the backbone of Jimmy Everly‘s sickly precise drumming and Mark Reinmiller‘s bass lines that drive songs forward with ease. “Fairweather” follows with the same drive, especially heavy on the drums, with lots of cymbals. The album’s first single, “Honestly,” proudly displays Negative Space’s great pop sensibilities while still proving they know how to rock harder and faster than you. I have no qualms about falling in love with a band that makes me want to pull over on I-95 South at rush hour and get out of my car to dance and jump around.

Nice’s vocals excel in a range of styles from low and deep on “Right Time” and “White Houses” to stressed yelling on “Falling” and “Lights Out.” The chorus of “Need” is very minimalist, with just Nice’s voice echoing over a soft rhythmic section before exploding into a glorious guitar harmony between Lienhard and Roda, who, at times, seem to be racing and battling each other with loud, fast riffs, especially apparent on “We Are.” What impressed me most of all with Storylines was the skill and precision of drummer Everly. He seems to be the driving force behind each song as he pounds away on the skins with an obvious expertise.

Storylines ends with “Abigail,” a melodic song full of sweet and charming riffs underneath great layering of Nice’s vocals. This sweet but ultimately sad song is the heaviest on the disc, as Nice sings, “Stop looking back at your set of scars” and “Laid out / I’ll meet you there / Won’t you hold me, my Abigail?” Melancholy can be felt in the song’s end as a few twinkling notes fall from Lienhard’s and Roda’s guitar before collapsing into silence.

While listening to Storylines, I thought of The Get-Up Kids, Valencia, The Starting Line, New Found Glory, well, most of the Drive Thru Records roster of the early 2000s, and hair metal bands that were more about looking metal than actually sounding metal. Negative Space would be a perfect fit for Warped Tour’s SmartPunk stage and probably has lots of adolescent female fans, all of which I mean in a 100% positive way. Their album is catchy as fuck and I enjoyed every single second of listening to it.

Storylines drops Tuesday, April 22, 2008. That day, the band will be at the Border’s book store in Lancaster, Pa. to give a special acoustic, “storytellers” performance. Later Negative Space will be playing a CD release show at The Chameleon in Lancaster, Pa. on Saturday, April 26th with special guests Sugar Coat and Kingsfoil.

Tracklisting: Diaries, Fairweather, Honestly, Ashes, Right Time, In Sickness and in Wealth, Falling, Lights Out, Need, White Houses, Almost, We Are, Abigail

Negative Space: website | myspace

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