Album Review :
Burning Tree Project - Time and Color EP

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Artist: Burning Tree Project
Album: Time and Color EP
Label: Independent
Buy: The Burning Tree Project Webstore
Review by the Headless Horseman.

1. Dear Valentine
2. Hero
3. Hello
4. Free
5. Put Your Helmet On
6. Less of Me, More of You

The best thing about reviewing CDs is that you can lie to people. Many reviewers seem to hit the ground running with this. I don’t mean so much that reviewers don’t accurately state their feelings about a CD. All of them, so far as I know, do that quite well. It is, after all, their job, so to speak. No, I refer to some of the little details reviewers add for flourish. Right now I’m specifically talking about the ways reviewers explain writer’s block. Have you ever seen a review like this? Almost always this review will have a line that somewhat resembles the following: “I find it very hard to write about *insert band name.* There’s really not much to say. It was very boring, and I can’t recall any details of the CD. Skip it.” I want to tell you, loyal IVM readers, something of great importance: those reviews are lies. Reviews about boring CDs on which every track seems pretty much the same are the easiest reviews to write, because it’s rather easy to provide scathing criticism of such music. As Levi G. would say, just look at Buzzgrinder. So what does writer’s block actually mean? Let’s find out. Because I have had no idea what to write about Burning Tree Project for the past two weeks, and it’s not because they’re boring. Far from it.

A good review should, in almost all cases, just stick to reviewing the music. Readers of less charitable sites than IVM (*wink*) have probably read reviews that have panned wrote off CDs simply for the band’s prior work or for mediocre cover art. Those reviews suck. So it’s generally best to focus solely on the music. But I can’t do that with Burning Tree Project, because it excites me to see an ethnically diverse group of young men brought together by new life in Christ playing some amazingly fun powerpop. If that isn’t at least a little cool to you, it definitely should be. However, if the music isn’t any good, then the story isn’t as cool as it ought to be. Fortunately, Time and Color is worth your money, your time, and all of your mosh pit skills, even if it does have some of the weak spots typical of any young band’s debut mark on the music industry.

If you, dear listener, start the EP at its beginning, you are likely to be a bit let down. “Dear Valentine” is a fun track, and musically, it’s pretty solid, but lyrically, the tune comes off as trite. The hooks in the verses are a bit lacking, and when lines like “Now I’m the one you left behind…and that’s fine, ’cause you have nowhere left to hide this time, dear valentine” are being sung over said hooks, you’ll probably imagine you heard this all before, and heard it better done on the mall-style pop-punk of yesteryear. And you’d be right, even if those other songs probably didn’t have the excellent production and musical depth coursing through the music of Burning Tree Project. But don’t give up just yet. Just one track later, I guarantee you’ll be dancing. The upbeat, synth-driven “Hero” awaits you. Singers Enik Lin and David Kim are going to make you want to jump around and (politely) run into people. Seemingly about the band escaping their past experiences and ways of life — though I might be wrong about this — the track is definitely a CD standout, rivaling the best work of bands like Spitalfield and Jet Lag Gemini.

So at this point, readers have the right to be optimistic. The band seems to have righted themselves from a lackluster opening, and are showing the world that they are a potential powerpop tour de force. Well…I don’t know how to say this exactly, but “Hello” is really not a very good song. It’s the ballad of the CD, and it just falls flat. The song opens lyrically with “Hello, hello, hello…So he said goodbye…Kind of like that night you said the same thing on my phone,” and it never really recovers. True, during the bridge, drummer Dave Briggs has a chance to get in some truly awesome fills, but it’s a song lyrically straight out of high school and musically a bit dull, and it kills the momentum Burning Tree Project were building.

Fortunately, the CD gets back on track again with “Free” (lyrics include “Glorious, Glorious…Your words beneath my lungs consume the wounds that carry my own cross to find your Son“), and the band never looks back. “Put Your Helmet On” is a no-frills rock-out, with the best and most driving chorus on the CD, guitar riffs courtesy of Scott Corgan and Johnny Mora. The track is another musically deep one, as keyboard lines (played by Andre Harris) gracefully intersect with delayed guitars throughout the second verse. I wanna hit people again. And Burning Tree Project go out with a bang with the worshipful “Less of Me, More of You.” Possibly the best overall track on the EP, it’s four straight minutes of edgy pop-punk goodness, and as the song fades out and Enik sings “I’m dying over you. I’m dying to love again. I’m dying over you. I’m dying to live again. I’m dying over you. Less of me, more of you“, all I can say is that you will be left wanting much, much more.

Why was it hard to write about Burning Tree Project? Well, sometimes I just get writer’s block. Maybe it has nothing to do with them whatsoever. But maybe, despite the few rough spots on Time and Color, Burning Tree Project is on the cusp of their potential: they are truly within reach of being one of the most exciting bands in that realm of independent music where passion, faith, and insanely catchy hooks collide. I sure as anything wouldn’t bet against them.

Rating: 7.5/10
Standout Tracks: “Hero,” “Put Your Helmet On,” “Less of Me, More of You”
RIYL: Jet Lag Gemini, Spitalfield, Search the City, Anberlin