Tin Star Orphans worked hard on their sophomore release, The Days of Blinding Fear. It has clearly been tour-tested, reworked and produced with love. The end product is a tight, dynamic, but somehow not terribly exciting album. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where and why the album doesn’t gel; it could be that the band set out to make an ambitious conceptual album and just overshot their ability to express it. The stark, grim ponderings on the nature of loss jar with sonically unchallenging music. Many of the riffs in their songs are reminiscent of the Arcade Fire or Wilco, but without the lushness of the former or the erudite bombast of the latter.
Standout track “Year of the Wave” showcases the band at its most comfortable, yelping and twanging its way through heady rock choruses. There are a few other moments like this, when a manic and often funny voice from within the eye of the storm adds colour to the stagnant, pallid introspection that clouds the rest of the album. It’s in these moments that the album’s vision is most clear, but the band so frequently loses its grasp on this vision that in the end, the biggest loss the listener is aware of is of the last few minutes of their time.