As a musician in a band, it’s sometimes tough to express certain creative capabilities that you possess. Due to these difficulties, members often seek out “side projects” that are designed to show a different side of their artistry. JT Tollas, vocalist for Petoskey, MI post-hardcore band Famous Last Words is the latest to undertake this task with his solo project, PostScript. Where he’s used to heavier, much more gritty music in FLW, this project experiments successfully with elements of EDM, Dubstep, Pop and even some hip-hop influences. The project is much more melodic, allowing for an easier listen but also much more vulnerable, in terms of lyrical content. His debut album, The Stars Collide with the Trees is a musical journey with no limits, no boundaries and no expectations. Simply put – it’s an artistic choice that reflects just how versatile he is as a musician and shows a much different side of who he is.
Musically, this album experiments with a lot of different stylistic choices that (normally) wouldn’t work well together but, ultimately, find a beautiful and cohesive home in a collection that dives deep into the realms of depression, loneliness and much more. Just as interesting are the visuals that accompany a good chunk of the tracks he’s created. For example, “Wrongside,” a hip-hop influenced tracks that even sees Tollas head into a more rap style vocal, features a character dubbed “Nuggy” fighting his way through a multitude of nightmarish situations that end with his Nug friends meeting their fates. Lyrically, it speaks on what happens when you put your trust in someone and having them let you down, in your hour of need. It delves into what it’s like to have depression and anxiety, being alone to fend for yourself and the thoughts that these situations can trigger. The video may seem silly but, if you watch closely, you’ll see it has a great impact into the idea the song looks to get across.
On the entirely opposite end of the spectrum is “So Suddenly,” which remains one of my favorite tracks. If you ever wanted to hear what it sounds like to hear JT write a song that could be in a Disney movie (such as Frozen,) this is absolutely the closest you’ll ever get. The track is piano-led, with a soaring chorus and builds into a symphonic and grandiose presentation that just makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Lyrically, it seems to speak to the idea of being in a band and the problems it presents, mentally and socially. You can hear an air of anxiety in JT’s vocal presentation here and it gives an edge of a melancholy, yet hopeful style.
Another real standout track is “Final Frontier,” which was presented in single form shortly after announcing the release of The Stars Collide with the Trees. A pop-driven vocal deliverance gives way to a very interesting, Oriental style beat that catches the listener off guard. By the time the second chorus kicks in, there is a faded in electronic drum beat that builds into the beat and gives it a climactic feel. Following a series of glitched, low vocal samples, the final chorus finally builds and then the song ends, leaving the listener in suspense. This track seems to be about realizing that you’re different from the rest of the world, despite being told that you should do everything you can to “fit in.”
“Evolve,” might be one of the best examples of a collaboration of different styles that the album has to offer. While there is an alternative rock edge to how JT’s vocals come off, building to the chorus, the track is more a pop/EDM amalgamation that is surrounded by a melancholic atmosphere, coupled with some “clap style” beats that build the pre-chorus. There is a faded, gang vocal/choral section that gives a nice closing presentation to the track, as well. Lyrically, the track seems to relate to some type of substance abuse (although not clear what substance) and the desire to make everyone proud. The instrumental sounds urgent, yet joyful and builds to each level of struggle that persists with things of this nature. Alternatively, it could be simply referring to the fearful nature of following your dreams to the end. As with most great compositions, the lyrics are up to interpretation and these are merely my thoughts.
The album ends with “The Insight King,” which can best be described as a mash-up of indie pop, space rock, jazz and hymnal. I would say, in terms of influence, this track reminds me most of bands like Thank You Scientist, Twenty One Pilots and The Black Keys. These are all bands that are known for “mixing it up” in terms of their musical styles and clearly, JT has found a way to do the same. It’s a fitting end to a unique, stylistic album that really brings it all together. While not EVERY style displayed on the album is represented via “The Insight King,” it certainly presents quite a few of them and speaks to just how limitless his creativity was for this project.
The Stars Collide with the Trees dives into the depths of many mental health issues and will speak to those individuals, specifically, through the deep and thoughtful nature of the lyrics within. It will impact the listener in a positive way, presenting another amazing collection of songs to get them through tough times. Moreover, it explores a level of creativity on the musical aspect that, quite simply, we seldom see (or hear) and even the visuals present just how unique this project is. It offers something for everyone so if you’re on the fence, do yourself a favor and take a listen! Chances are, this artist will defy your expectations and open your mind to new possibilities with your taste in music. The Stars Collide with the Trees is out now on SBG Records and can be purchased, using the links below. For your convenience, I’ve included the videos for “My (Deepest) Apologies,” “Wrongside” and “Evolve,” embedded below.