The fourth studio release and first EP from Pittsburgh based Seconds Before Landing, Trio Volume 1, kicks off with the thoroughly idiosyncratic strands of “Maybe I’m a Weirdo”. John Crispino’s songwriting has long since expanded its vision since the science fiction themes of the band’s debut The Great Deception and this well-written, offbeat character “study” gains even more artistic traction thanks to the strong weaving of its musical elements. Synthesizer, guitar, piano, drums, bass, and post-production wizardry of the understated variety create a dramatic soundscape for listeners, but it’s never arbitrary. Instead, this extended track illustrates the increasingly wide-screen vision Crispino and the other members of Seconds Before Landing bring to bear with each song and new release. It’s easy to admire or like the writing turns Crispino’s style takes over the course of this song and it syncs up with the arrangement.
“1-9-2” has some of the EP’s most omnipresent lead guitar work on the release thanks to Steve Schuffert’s six string prowess, but his presence is scattered throughout the song. The aforementioned opener includes Jamie Peck’s outstanding piano playing and this song does as well, but this perhaps unexpected addition to Seconds Before Landing’s canvas brings color strengthening the overall performance. There’s still the same heavy presence of synthesizers in the song, played by Crispino, but it doesn’t leave the same deep fingerprints on this number we heard in the opener. It’s shorter than the EP opener, but still packed with every bit of the same imagination obviously fueling “Maybe I’m A Weirdo”.
The third and final song on the release, “You Can’t Deny Me”, and it’s the fullest realization yet of the band’s cinematically infused approach to composition and performance. There’s an abundance of guitar tracks working on this song, but the six string never dominates the song’s sound and benefits from an impressive rhythm section performance at the hands of bassist J.D. Garrison and John Crispino’s drumming. It’s the shortest cut on the EP, but it’s monumentally impressive to hear how fully rounded and realized this track is. The subject matter and mood of the songwriting is definitely downcast and intense, characterizing the mindset of a school shooter, and Crispino’s vocal captures a lot of that dysfunction and rage with powerful peaks spaced out throughout the song.
The EP is packed with a great deal of power and creativity while still remaining accessible for casual listeners. Seconds Before Landing have made significant strides with each new studio release and this brief, but well rounded, outing for the band seems like the next logical evolution in the band’s career trajectory. Trio Volume 1 seems to be the opening entry in a longer conceptual piece, but Crispino’s songwriting has a much wider purview than ever before and it’s exciting to consider where they may go from here. It’s one of the most artistic releases, any length or genre, you’ll hear in 2018.