Left of the Dial – “Idly By”

Worrell says “Idly By” is a solid effort, but fails to stand out in the post-hardcore genre. Do you agree?

Peterson Worrell

6.5
out of 10

Left of the Dial
Idly By
November 5, 2013
Panic Records

Being totally candid, it took quite some time for me to fully appreciate the post-hardcore genre as a whole. Growing up, I’d always heard the term loosely thrown around to encompass a wide variety of bands that ranged from a poppier sound to those tinged with metal influence. Then I got my hands on my first Fugazi record and I realized what a band that fully expanded upon the classic hardcore sound could, and in many rights should, sound like. From then on I was hooked, experimenting with bands from Refused to At the Drive-In. These bands built upon the hardcore fundamentals and created something unique and profoundly different, not only from the hardcore foundation of the genre, but also from each other.

While many contemporary post-hardcore bands have established their own specific sound and niche, it seems like the genre overall may have lost its willingness to try something outside the box. I think that’s where Detroit’s Left of the Dial’s most recent record, Idly By, may have lost me. There are quite a few bands that have become quite established in the current post-hardcore scene, Make Do and Mend and La Dispute being two heavy hitters of the genre that come to mind first. Much to the detriment of the genre’s evolution, the success of great bands like the previous two mentioned seems to have influenced emerging bands to the point where it’s hard to differentiate the really great bands from the ones that are just good.

Don’t get me wrong in any way, Idly By is at the very least a solid album and any fan of the genre will be pleased. The hooks and riffs are heavy and catchy. The lyrics are well written, poignant, and reflect some serious introspection, much in the vein of the band’s cited influences Jawbreaker and Samiam. The making of a great album is there, but it seems like the band was doing just that: following a recipe for success. The album teems with the frustration of a twenty-something youth just trying to get by in today’s world and the lyrics reflect that personal and genuine struggle. The overall execution of the album, however, failed to provide anything novel to the progression of the genre to me though. In a genre that’s overflowing with talented acts like Left of the Dial, standing out is a key factor. Idly By, while being an excellent attempt, just fails to stand out to the casual fan of post-hardcore like myself.

-Peterson Worrell, January 8, 2014