Album Review: Life On Hold – The Outsider EP

September 14, 2011 at 4:41 pm 1 comment

For fans of: Mumford and Sons, Iron & Wine, The Decemberists, Rilo Kiley, Meg & Dia

When you’re a band that has gained a good following based on a trademark sound, deciding to go in a new direction is a big risk. While bands should be granted the creative license to create whatever they want, unfortunately, it’s not always that simple when you have fans to please.

I was introduced to Life On Hold a few years ago, when a friend of mine asked for help in booking and running some local shows. He sent me their MySpace page and I was instantly impressed by the sugary pop-punk sound of “Far Too Sensual to Be Conventional.” We booked them for a show and I was extremely pleased with their live performance, as well. The entire band harmonized well together and frontwoman Ally Mahoney was full of a contagious energy that would put even the great Hayley Williams to shame.

Life On Hold followed up their debut, The Element of Surprise EP, with The Run-Around EP, which showed decidedly more advanced songwriting. With an album featuring pianos, strings and the phenomenal Mayday Parade-like ballad “Atlantic Summer,” the band was able to build upon the sound they were known for, while showing they had even more up their sleeves. The production was slick, the hooks were tight and it was getting harder to believe that this band hadn’t yet graced the cover of Alternative Press.

Needless to say, when I saw that Life On Hold were working on a third album, I was excited to hear how they had grown again. When The Outsider EP was posted yesterday, I downloaded the tracks, cued up opener “The Wanderer” and, less than 30 seconds in, my jaw literally dropped in shock. Was I sure I had downloaded the right thing?

With warm acoustic guitars provided by Nate Wan and Chris LaRocque, and rich harmonies sung by the whole band, the tone of this song instantly recalls indie rock bands like Mumford and Sons and Rilo Kiley (a far cry from the scene bands mentioned earlier). Before the song even finished, I had sent the link to a few friends, all of whom were as taken with the song as I was…and that’s saying a lot, considering one is a metalhead and the other pretty much only listens to Hanson and showtunes. From vocals to instrumentation to lyrics, it’s simply a flawless recording. Listen for yourself in the player below!

Ally takes over on lead vocals on second track “One for the Foxes,” where she sings with a surprisingly sassy, country-rock attitude. Drummer Steve Aliperta and bassist Joe Aylward join in here, as the boys contribute more glowing harmonies in the low-key chorus and the entire band sings an outro together.

“Best Bet” picks up where “The Wanderer” left off, adding soft drums and flute to the mix as the band’s vocals continue to blend smoothly behind Ally’s. With it’s foot-tapping rhythm and country twinge, fourth track “Whisperfolk” could almost certainly be a B-side from The Decemberists’ The King Is Dead, while closer “The Outsider” shuffles along to sunny banjo picking and hand claps.

Life On Hold continue to be a band that I have a great amount of respect for. At the same time, I continue to ask myself, “Why aren’t they famous yet?”  I have a great feeling about this record, though, and believe that it absolutely has the potential to launch this band to the next level, where they have deserved to be for quite some time.

Best of all, The Outsider EP is available here  for FREE. If you don’t download this album, you’re missing out one of the best records I’ve heard all year.

Rating: 5/5 – A

Tracklisting:

1. The Wanderer

2. One for the Foxes

3. Best Bet

4. Whisperfolk

5. The Outsider

Make sure to follow Life On Hold on Facebook & Twitter!

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Entry filed under: Album Review: Grade A, ALBUM REVIEWS. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Ben Knight  |  September 14, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    everything here is absolutely true.

    Reply

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