For better or worse, radio rock is a formulaic genre. The mold can be broken and it can be done right (see: Slipknot, System of a Down), but if it’s done wrong (read: just like everyone else), you could take any band’s song, pass it off to their contemporary, and you’d never know who the original performer was. Being able to break that mold or not is an important difference: the former solidifies staying power. Bands like Thrice and Chevelle wrote some incredible music and had commercial success, but their records fade into 2004.
I’m worried the same fate might befall This City Awaits. The music is good; there are some solid movements in the songwriting. It has the moments where you stop what you’re doing to focus on the music—a great trait in a record, proving it doesn’t become literal background music—but Said the Liar’s intro-verse-chorus-verse style seems to blend the songs into one overall umbrella. (And throw in the acoustic song to prove you can do it.)
The radar blips of head-turning show hope, but if you get the record, you’ll most likely listen to it for a few months and then move on to the next hot band in the genre.