Yesterday Vs. Tomorrow is a project that was formed in 2011 by Jesse Kaufman and Kevin Stuitje. It originated as a studio project but later formed into a fleshed-out band. Although the band has gone through some lineup changes they were able to release a seventeen-song album entitled Aurora Borealis. The band is varied, very varied, and some of it works really well and some of it falls flat.
Before getting into specifics there are some general traits that album displays. The vocalist sounds undeniably young when he sings and for better or worse that’s how he sounds. Some of the songs work to his benefit such as the one the veers towards punk rock and backdoor acoustic sessions. HIs vocals don’t work as well when they play grandiose arena rock song similar to that of Thirty Seconds From Mars and U2. His vocals are really a microcosm for how the album plays out. There hasn’t been a album in recent memory in which I had such an ambivalent relationship with from song to song.
The album starts off with “Astronomy,” which unfortunately isn’t the band at their strongest. This is over the top arena rock in which the mere production they have buckles at the seams. This is a lo-fi album and when they go over the top reaching for the heavens it just doesn’t work. The thing that surprised me was on the second track “Local Millionaires” they do a complete 180 and play into the production as well as the band’s creative strengths.
It’s basically a jagged, western spaghetti punk rock and they pull it off wonderfully. The vocals work here, the guitar sounds good and overall it is a damn good tune. “Just Wait...” is a sparse song revolving around vocals and acoustic guitar and like the song before it they embrace the lo-fi aesthetics. It works.
“[Sprawl Song Singalong]” is a worthy song but the vocals were way too low in the mix while “Goodbye, Goodnight” is an atmospheric, melancholy piece that sounded good on the band. “Northern Lights” is yet another deviation and is an instrumental piece that sounds like a synth being torn apart. Just when I thought they were out of genres to explore they mix in Postal Service like electronic hybrid entitled “Renaissance Man.”
I’d have to say that Aurora Borealis is the most varied album I have heard - maybe ever. It almost sounds like a different band from song to song, which gives way to zero consistency. It’s going to be hard for the band to build a solid fan base since their music is so scattered. At some point the band may want to concentrate on any given genre or subgenre and work to refine that so they can release something that is more cohesive and unified.
At the end of the day Aurora Borealis is a good album and you most likely will take a listen and gravitate towards particular songs. As matter of fact once I treated Aurora Borealis as a bunch of singles rather an album it became a lot more enjoyable.
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