When a band includes a disclaimer in their lyrics booklet explaining that musical themes of suicide should not be acted upon by the listener, they must really mean business. I hear the phrase “summer album” thrown around often in connection to upbeat and poppy albums. In contrast, Park’s It Won’t Snow Where You’re Going is the kind of album needed for warmth through the coldest of winters. Though there is little to nothing that can be described as cheerful in vocalist/guitarist Ladd Mitchell’s lyrics, there’s something encouraging in screaming ‘Let’s give up / Let’s give in’ during times of personal strife.
Though his lyrics are one of the main draws to Park, Mitchell’s vocals are nothing extraordinary. There’s something humbling about this, though. It makes him an everyman, someone whose troubles are easy to relate to. With that being said, at certain moments on the album his voice does shine brighter than usual. There’s an unmistakable build up on the track “Pomona for Empusa,” and for a few moments before the chorus Mitchell conveys his current frustration excellently with the single lyric, ‘Jesus Christ, what was I thinking?’ This short pause is made even better with limited accompaniment by guitarist Justin Valenti, who dwindles towards lower notes on the fretboard as a representation of Mitchell’s sinking state.
Transitions between songs can sometimes be awkward and poorly executed. It Won’t Snow Where You’re Going manages to produce one transition that’s downright fantastic. At the close of “Pomona for Empusa” drummer Miles Logan jumps from the left speaker to the right (an effect that can only be fully appreciated while wearing headphones) before bleeding into “Conversations with Emily,” an immensely impressive song.
The transition is made better due to how different the two tracks are. “Pomona for Empusa” is loud and angry, while “Conversations with Emily” is soothing, and spectacular because of it. Emily is Mitchell’s confidant; he spills his heart to her over a love lost as she attempts to comfort him. Mitchell speaks the part of Emily as well, which surprisingly adds to the storytelling effect. He speaks softly his anguish, expressing his emotions slowly for poetic effect: ‘The only thing that can fill this gap / Is the one who doesn’t want me back.’ Ever the supportive friend, and perhaps shunned love interest, Emily consoles Mitchell by acting as the voice of reason: ‘I wish you were here to hold me / And scream Damn it Ladd, I need you back / Emily rolls over in bed / And says, You don’t want that.’ Bassist Gabe Looker does a wonderful job setting the tone, and as with every song on the album, he presents creative bass work that isn’t boring. “Conversations with Emily” is part open letter, part short story, and a song that everyone must listen to.
Hell hath no fury like Ladd Mitchell scorned, as evident on every track from It Won’t Snow Where You’re Going. Ever the conflicted lover, Mitchell wishes death on the woman he loves, wishes death for himself, and is quick to apologize for every one of his shortcomings. He lays himself at the feet of his dear sweet impaler, and when she denies him, he lashes out and yells, ‘Well god damn you for breathing,’ though he is instantly apologetic, repeatedly reciting the words ‘I love you.’
Park goes out on top with “Codex Avellum,” the final track of the album. Thought the lyrics are limited, the element of screaming background vocals accompanying Mitchell’s solemn words adds some raw emotion that is missing on previous tracks. It Won’t Snow Where You’re Going seems to have all the ingredients of a superb album, but lack of diversity hurts it as a whole. It’s a shame that the songs aren’t more unique from one another musically. Essentially, if you hear one song, you’ve heard them all. A huge exception to the rule is “Conversations with Emily,” which proves that with more branching out It Won’t Snow Where You’re Going could have been something better. Before this review is over, it is mandatory to post the last lyrics to the best song on the album. Slowing things down even further and cutting out the bass to place more of an emphasis on Emily’s final words, her conversation with Mitchell comes to a close.
So here’s my advice to you This should have turned out different But it didn't, so get over it But don't you find it reassuring That one consolation growing My darling boy It won't snow where she is going