Those familiar with Taylor Fredricks’ prior work in his former eponymous band may be surprised when they hear The Victim, The Witness, Fredricks’ new solo project. But a lot of the qualities that made his prior band a local and regional success are present here, so they shouldn’t be disappointed.While Taylor Fredricks was mostly an in-your-face, loud rock band, Fredricks tones things down a bit in his solo project, favoring lyrics and melody over big guitar riffs and loud vocals. If you’re looking for comparisons, the most obvious ones would be Chris Carrabba’s turn from rock band Further Seems Forever to his solo act Dashboard Confessional back in 2000 or Jonah Matranga’s departure from his band Far to record as onelinedrawing. In the same way Carrabba and Matranga initially did with their solo bands, Fredricks abandons everything but his acoustic guitar on Complacency, delivering six songs of pure listening bliss.
While The Victim, The Witness may initially sound less aggressive than his earlier work, Complacency has the same biting and edgy lyrics we have become accustomed to hearing from Fredricks, and that is the album’s strength. On the album opener, “No Reason For Your Madness,” Fredricks predicts “your condescending and ambiguous ways will drown your morals in shame / like you ever had them,” while on “Another Day in Paradise” Fredricks goes a step further when he asks, “Can you tell me what it feels like to have no one care about you? / I’m sure you felt it before because no one ever really liked you.” And lastly, on “Oh, How Things Change,” Fredricks pleads for his antagonist to loosen the grip around his neck. Whomever these songs are about, suffice it to say, Fredricks is exposing them to the world for who they really are and creating some really great songs in the process.
“Beyond the IV Line” and “I’m Just Your Pin Cushion” are the best and most accessible songs on Complacency, with the latter bringing to mind the eerie vibe of The Cure’s “Lullaby,” while “The Details in Fine Print,” Complacency’s closing track, brings the listener full circle as Fredricks seems to make peace with his situation when he says he is “finally over you, so leave me alone.”
The Victim, The Witness is a daring project for Fredricks. What takes more guts than exposing your innermost feelings to an audience via a simple guitar and song? Fredricks’ honest and genuine lyrics are refreshing and unexpectedly startling at times. With this extremely cohesive album, Fredricks scores big with The Victim, The Witness.