Personnel: Kristina Esfandiari, Scott Phillips (vocals); Anthony Anzaldo, Michael Bingham, RJ Phillips (guitar); Neal Sharma (tambourine); James Rogers (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Jack Shirley.
Photographer: Reid Haitbcock.
With each album, Creative Adult move further away from their post-hardcore roots -- the band includes former members of Life Long Tragedy and All Teeth -- and further into a more unusual niche. As on their debut Psychic Mess, Creative Adult sound more visceral on Fear of Life than many post-punk-inspired acts, yet more pensive and philosophical than some bands influenced by hardcore. Creative Adult have feelings about having feelings: There's muscle behind their moods on "I Can Love," where the title sounds equally like an affirmation and a threat, and lyrics like "Push/pull" hint at how emotions can feel almost physical. Thanks to Jack Shirley's production, however, Creative Adult's music is cleaner, more eclectic, and possibly even bleaker than ever before. While "Hand in Shove" closes the album with doomy post-punk that would've fit on their debut, the glassy guitars make a striking contrast with Scott Phillips' ragged vocals. Elsewhere, the band takes unexpected cues from the Smiths and Oasis, subverting the swaggering beats and arpeggios of the Gallagher brothers' early hits. Songs like "Supersonic" were monuments to confidence, but on "Know Who" and "Charged," Phillips sings "I know there isn't any other way/There doesn't appear to be anyone" instead of demanding gin and tonic. Along with these homages, on Fear of Life Creative Adult also call to mind a slightly less grandiose version of . And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, another punk-rooted band unafraid of big gestures and bigger feelings on "Heal" and "Moving Window," an epic-sounding song inspired by a conversation Phillips had with a woman on the bus. This track and "Reality Tunnel" are among a handful of times when Fear of Life's angst catches fire, but the other ways Creative Adult transform their fury into turbulent, affecting songs are arguably more impressive. ~ Heather Phares