Over on the rock and Christian charts, a ferocious young Texas band called Flyleaf has been coming on like the next Evanescence, with save-me-from-the-dark lyrics that balance redemption and shame. Their MySpace page: “While many loud rockers reopen old wounds by singing about their broken homes and broken hearts, Flyleaf confront past traumas to heal old scars and prove in the process that hope shines brighter than despair.” Actually, the lyrics on their self-titled album, though heartfelt, are far too vague to confront anything (“Sometimes life seems to quiet into paralyzing silence/Like the moonless dark, meant to make me strong”); Flyleaf’s struggles would matter more if the band did act like all those loud rockers and wailing teenpoppers and sing about boy-girl/parent-child traumas.
Fortunately, they sound like rockers and teenpoppers. Singer Lacey Mosley will sometimes roar and growl among the wolves, and she’ll do the Amy Lee–Evanescence agony thing; but unlike Amy (who sounds like she’s being continuously tortured to death), Lacey is a total live wire, willing to face tunes as well as terror, an attractive demanding neediness in her voice. Actually, she sounds more like Avril Lavigne. And her double-tracked harmonies go to the same piercing high pitch that Kelly Clarkson added in backing herself up on “Behind These Hazel Eyes,” which are the same high harmonies that teenpoppers like the Veronicas use.I don’t know if the band would cringe at those comparisons—I told a couple of 13-year-old girls that I was reviewing Flyleaf, and they got all excited. When I then mentioned the Veronicas, they wrinkled their noses. Metal kids feel a social barrier between themselves and teenpop, but it’s a barrier the music ignores. Teenpop has long since been willing to do goth and metal, even if the metallers don’t know it. Listen to Avril’s “Unwanted” and Kelly’s “Hear Me,” each with dense metal guitar from producer Clif Magness. And as for the harmonies, play Flyleaf’s “Sorrow” and “There For You” back to back with “Hazel Eyes” and the Veronicas’ “Everything I’m Not.”
Of course, a whole bunch of dorky male brat-rock bands employ harmonies too, pretty much the only redeeming element in their music, and are probably Flyleaf’s actual source. But like teenpop and unlike the boy rockers, Lacey really lets her vocals fly. If anything, her harmonies are more deliriously desperate and ecstatic than the Veronicas’. It may be that Flyleaf’s rock crunch—throbbing dance from the bass, and a guitar that kicks—raises the overall intensity. Flyleaf have no flat-out great I-love-it songs on the order of “4ever” or “Hear Me,” but they’ve got a whole shitload of great moments.