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These Green Eyes - 'Relapse to Recovery' Review

These Green Eyes Stare Into the Abyss, Write Pop-Punk Songs About Their Troubles

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these green eyes relapse to recovery

These Green Eyes - 'Relapse to Recovery'

Photo courtesy Blackledge.
Relapse to Recovery, the second full-length record from These Green Eyes, is a concept album, but not in the pretentious ways one associates with that term. A series of songs dealing with loss, self-doubt and the struggle not to give up, Relapse to Recovery was written in response to the suicide of a friend of the band, and the Connecticut quintet deal head-on with life’s uncertainty through well-polished pop-punk tunes. Those who detest anything resembling emo will want to steer clear, but Relapse to Recovery’s urgency and consistent tunefulness make up for the group’s stylistic limitations.

Emotional Songs

These Green Eyes are led by frontman Colin Cunningham, whose singing style has the right mix of plaintive vulnerability and everyman empathy to tackle Relapse to Recovery’s tour of wrecked lives and drunken nights of despair. Because he has a nerdy, sensitive tone to his voice, These Green Eyes might trigger comparisons to emo groups like Fall Out Boy where the brash pop-punk songs have an overly touchy-feely quality to them. There’s no question that Relapse to Recovery is about that need to pour your heart out and chronicle every single negative emotion you’re feeling – which admittedly leads to some icky, sappy moments – but Cunningham’s candor makes the sentiments easily relatable. Whether on the piano ballad “Blood Sweat and Beers” or the revved-up “Last Call at the Dolly,” Cunningham uses his lyrics to talk through his problems in real time, and the music’s emphatic, vaguely melodramatic qualities simply enhance the depths of his worries.

Metaphorical Death

Relapse to Recovery mentions suicide, but rather than delving into the details of their friend’s sad end, the songs address death in metaphorical terms – relationships collapse, friendships deteriorate, individuals lose their sense of themselves. In this way, These Green Eyes touch on issues that are universal, which makes the raging regret of “Last Call at the Dolly” or the complicated emotions of the grieving “Drunk Driver” that much more poignant. Relapse to Recovery swings from anger to sorrow rather easily, nicely mimicking the swirl of emotions one feels during traumatic times. If a listener didn’t know the tragic circumstances that inspired Relapse to Recovery, he or she might not even realize that an actual suicide provoked such emotional songs, but that seems to be These Green Eyes’ intention – instead of just dwelling on their own pain, they want to find common ground with the pain of their audience.

Looking for a Silver Lining

To be fair, These Green Eyes have acknowledged that Relapse to Recovery also came about during a period of uncertainty in the band’s career when they weren’t sure if they wanted to continue as a unit. That, coupled with their friend’s death, prompted them to reevaluate their priorities, ultimately leading them to decide that they wanted to keep recording as These Green Eyes. That sense of renewed purpose can be heard on Relapse to Recovery. “I don’t know where to go/And I don’t know what to do,” Cunningham sings on the opener, “At the End,” but he sounds invigorated rather than disillusioned. It’s the first step toward a brighter tomorrow.

Best 'Relapse to Recovery' Tracks:

“At the End” (Purchase/Download)
“Kick the Crutch” (Purchase/Download)
“Blood Sweat and Beers” (Purchase/Download)
“Drunk Driver” (Purchase/Download)
“Last Call at the Dolly” (Purchase/Download)

Release date – March 24, 2009
Blackledge Music

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