Vanity EPHide Away Records
By Cole Faulkner
New Jersey post-punk act Breaking Tradition are the new kids on the block of a heavily populated street. They’re the newcomers that moved to the neighbourhood because of the already glowing reputation of long term residents like Brand New, Manchester Orchestra and Citizen. Like all good new neighbours, Breaking Tradition wastes no time acquainting themselves with their new peers – in this case their debut EP, Vanity, is the equivalent to a well intended introductory knock at the door.
But a safe handshake that makes for a pleasant acquaintance doesn’t necessarily translate to a lasting impression; nor does it reveal much beyond surface level. In the case of Breaking Tradition, Vanity struggles to develop a voice of its own, contented to merely blend in with those that came before them and fade into mediocrity.
But before delving into such criticism it’s worth acknowledging that when Breaking Tradition performs in a strict post-punk mood, the atmosphere is impeccably deep. Opener “Singing Arc” sets a disappointingly high bar at the onset of Vanity. Breaking Tradition takes their time in laying down a blanket of soft fluttery riffs that introduce the mellow interplay of the band’s co-vocalists. “I want us to be a singing arc, I am the end you are the start,” chimes the two, lacing their voices together and drawing them apart in the lead up a shimmering choral lead. The track expertly chains the low-key mood to the subsequent upsurge in riffs that work their way early into “105.” It them becomes a shame that the band opts to explore their louder side with some pretty unremarkable alternative pop-rock.
By the time “Lost Cause” veers its head, Vanity starts to sounds more and more like something less memorable from the Taking Back Sunday school of pop-rock. The misstep comes to light when the band emerges from their initial post-punk shadows and into the rather overpopulated everyday streets. Semi-whiny vocals with big repetitious choruses comes to define “All Of My Days” save for a feeling of angst that Breaking Tradition inject late in the game. Otherwise, the EP begins to bleed hopelessly together in adequate yet disappointing fashion. A few emotionally introverted moments scale the guitars back for the sake of variety here and there (“Red Bank” is a prime example), but they never regain the depth or momentum established earlier.
After leaving such a strong first impression, Vanity dissolves into a middling disappointment that will leave listeners scratching their head. At the crux of the issue, Breaking Traditions is an alternative band that would be better off as a post-punk band. As it stands, Vanity is a promising product that falters due to creators that lack understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses.