‘The Journey’ hasn’t really taken me on one unfortunately; it’s a project that perhaps overcompensates with trying to be an album for an album’s sake when refining the production and cutting the material down to an EP might’ve put Ryan Soanes in a better place. There’s glimpses of potential, but for me it’s clouded in sanitised synths and overly produced vocals in places they’re just not needed.
Tracks like ‘Be Alright’ and ‘Call My Name’ have been cut from the same cloth; a sort of Owl City meets Young Guns vibe that doesn’t offer much in the way of diversity in sound or structure. The vibrancy that I can only assume was meant for the vocals, with their incessant reverb and autotune, has been lost. It may have worked a decade ago, but now? I’m not so sure. ‘Dancing with a Cigarette’, ‘Tokyo’ and ‘Play with my Heart’ are plagued by the same shortcomings; there’s an inertia to it all that leaves ‘The Journey’ very much at a standstill.
There are moments, though, and this is exactly why I think this album should’ve been condensed into maybe a 4-track release from the get-go. With ‘Disappear’ we have a bit more angst, a bit more purpose and direction. There’s more ‘feeling’ here. Lyrically, there’s more of a narrative flow that enables somewhat of a formation of a relationship between the listener and the music that has so far been missing, and Soanes’ experimentation with more spoken word vocals laced with an emo tinge works well.
‘Last Forever’ and ‘Skyline’ almost go far enough but fall just short of where I wanted them to be by their close, and I feel that Soanes over-reliance on a ‘spaced-out’ but ultimately dreary pop production limits where these two could’ve ended up. More of the interlacing of electronic and live drums, more staccato guitars etc., could’ve given that ‘live-feel’ that I think ‘The Journey’ really needs. ‘Perfect’, although different in structure, tempo, and appearance, does this quite well. The simple cutting acoustic guitar transitioning well into the delicate electric combined with a more reserved pop production value is a nice touch to an album that I feel is lacking in them. As ballads go, it’s not half bad, but again I would’ve loved to have been taken off my feet by a swirling, soaring climax that never really came.
On the whole, this one isn’t for me. There are moments, yes, but in the grand scheme of things, I feel like ‘The Journey’ is repetitive and relies too heavily on tricks it’s already utilised in the song that’s come before it. Although there’s no doubt Ryan Soanes does have the potential to write some really catchy and enjoyable pop songs, that potential needs to be given more freedom to explore what it can do rather than sticking in a lane that doesn’t really do it justice.