Bands have a hard time replacing charismatic frontmen -- or, in the case of hard-rock quintet Flyleaf, frontwomen. While helmed by manic pixie screamo grrrl Lacey Mosley, the band managed to crack the Billboard charts, propelled in no small amount by her ability to sound entranced, ecstatic, fragile, and downright aggressive all within the space of a three-and-a-half minutes. So how does a group compensate when a singer with such range suddenly chooses family life over the rigors of the road? You pick the best replacement you can (in the case of Flyleaf, Vedera's Kristen May) and alter the form of your art to adapt to your new competencies.
Though hardcore fans of Flyleaf have kvetched over the switch, the song "City Kids" shows the effectiveness of the band's sonic strategy. A coming-of-age anthem penned by guitarist Sameer Bhattacharya, it muses over lost love and the transmuting power of time, buoyed by delicate chords, pulsing percussion, and May's pure tones:
Walking through the city we grew up in.The sweet, steady sound, though, gives way at the end of the chorus when the amplifiers kick into overdrive and bassist Pat Seals looses a raging hardcore scream that slowly fades into a tortured wail. A jarring contrast? You bet. But it also fits both the disenchanted subject matter and the sound the band's former siren helped foment. It's an instructive approach. Few writers can tackle all areas of the crafts in every way they want to. Perhaps Flyleaf's creative use of form could serve as a model.
Everything has changed again.
I remember fighting to believe in
Truth and how the good will win.
But we were young, almost in love,
Too scared to reach out for what was.