REVIEW: A Will Away – ‘Bliss’

a will away bliss feature

Artist: A Will Away
Album: Bliss
Label: Quiet Fire Media
Genre: Emo, Indie Rock, Pop-Punk

There’s a distinct difference between happiness and bliss. Happiness is the consequence of a positive situation or outcome; it describes the joy that accompanies a successful plan or an unexpected, pleasant turn of events. Bliss is different. Bliss describes the feeling of letting go, floating freely in a world of joy, unbound from the constraints of embarrassment or expectation – bliss accompanies the feeling of true contentedness with one’s sense of identity. In this regard, Bliss is a perfect title for the new EP from Connecticut’s A Will Away. With this set of five new tracks, the band has left behind the constraints and tropes of the pop-rock genre and crafted an impressive, atmospheric release that truly captures their rare sense of identity.

Bliss is A Will Away’s follow-up to early 2014’s Cold Weather and late 2014’s split with Buffalo up-and-comers Head North. I thoroughly enjoyed both of those releases and their painstaking attention to detail in the songwriting department, but generally lackluster production value held back their total potential. The band addressed this issue directly by recording the new EP with Gary Cioffi at Maximum Sound Studios in Boston (Transit, Misser). Glossy, pristine guitar tones paint a laid-back soundscape while rich, full drums drive the songs into exciting rhythmic territory. The engineering work accentuates the band’s style perfectly on guitar-driven tracks like “My Sitter” and “Play Dead,” the latter of which best showcases the band’s impeccable sense of melody and technical performance.

Frontman Matt Carlson gives a sublime performance on Bliss, with some ridiculous vocal takes that push the catchy vocal melodies to a new level. Carlson shines brightly on “Ten or Eleven,” transitioning quickly between full power belting in the verses to incredibly well-controlled singing in the pre-chorus, and back to full power in the chorus. Carlson’s scream over relentless guitar work from lead guitarist Collin Waldon creates a feeling of urgency and release, reminiscent of tracks like “Top Notch” from Manchester Orchestra’s Cope. This dynamic songwriting is key to Bliss’ coherent sound – the range of tones is impressive, given the EP’s short runtime.

If you’ve been paying attention to A Will Away’s output over the years and noticed the sharpening of their live performance with each subsequent release, it’s always been clear that the Connecticut four-piece was destined for greatness. With Bliss, they’ve come closer than ever. Free from the binds and tropes of the genre that held them back, Bliss gives A Will Away a long-sought-after sense of identity and glances at an even more promising future.

SCORE: 9/10
Review written by: John Bazley (Follow him on Twitter)

I recommend checking A Will Away out on tour if they’re coming through your town. Their live show is unreal – one of my favorite bands to see live. Take a look at their current tour dates here.

John Bazley

John Bazley was raised in central New Jersey by the romantic aura of the Asbury Park beachfront, punk rock, and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4. He is still trying to figure all of this stuff out.

In addition to UTG, John has contributed to Alternative Press and Full Frequency Media. Follow him on Twitter for pictures of his dog.
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