Alt-rock found its place in the 90s and early 2000s, and for many millennials, there’s a necessary nostalgia listening through albums of this era. I remember my middle school playing Switchfoot songs during school meetings. All American Rejects and Yellowcard were some of the first bands I personally connected with.
However, there’s one major thing that got in the way of enjoying these bands as I got older: life. Lyrically themes no longer appealed to me. The instrumentation got lost in a sea of similar artists. I was changing, but the bands weren’t. Similarly, many musicians found that touring wasn’t a viable strategy to support a family and find some stability in life and called it quits.
Among the dearly departed sits Acceptance, with their last release, Phantoms, dated back to 2005. However, like a dormant volcano, in the silence, they sat poised to release their explosive return, Colliding by Design.
Frankly, we all have better things to do than simply look for a nostalgia kick. The real question is this: Did Acceptance create an album that’s powerful enough to appeal to new listeners or must they simply rely on their former success for the album to get any visibility?
Thankfully, I would attest it’s the former of the two. Colliding by Design could be described as the strange lovechild of Paper Route’s Real Emotion and Switchfoot’s Where the Light Shines Through, which is no coincidence given the history of all three brands. Acceptance’s return brings a strange mix of classic alt-rock and even more classic 80s sounds, manifesting in the form of electronic percussion, glitch sounds, and even shoegazy guitar parts.
Because of this, the album chooses to forego the nostalgia effect as its primary driving force. When Phantoms was released, the 80s were considered long-gone. As such, the presence of those albums creates an atmosphere which is familiar, without losing modernity. Further, infectious pop melodies work alongside dance grooves, leaving an upbeat album that makes it easily enjoyable.
Colliding by Design is ultimately a high-energy return that definitely has plenty to offer new listeners. Standout tracks like the title track, We Can Escape, Fire and Rain, and Golden certainly showcase the group’s abilities, while also highlighting their change in sound. Acceptance definitely brings more than nostalgia on this release.
For fans of: Switchfoot, Mew, Death Cab for Cutie, Paper Route