Well, here is my first album review of 2013. This one I was REALLY excited about, as they are arguably my favorite “up and coming” pop punk band right now. I absolutely loved their full length (Defining. Refining) and latest EP (Running Water), so this new release was high on my list of most anticipated for the year. If you aren’t familiar with them, they’re just a group of young guys trying to keep technical skate punk music alive (think No Trigger or A Wilhelm Scream) while giving it a twist of the more modern pop punk style.
You can immediately sense a small difference in style with the first track, “Untitled”. The vocals are a bit more raw and not quite as “catchy’ as previous material, but the song is still excellent because it’s something new for them. It’s a progression similar to what Transit did on their latest full length. “River” is a song that’s much more reminiscent of their older material… blistering guitar riffs and just a fast and aggressive song in general.
“Vessel” is perhaps the most interesting song on the album for me. It’s darker and more midtempo compared to the first two songs. Well, for being a Half Hearted Hero song, I’d actually consider this SLOW. After a few listens, this is probably my favorite song off this release. And I may be the only one that hears it, but a song like this wouldn’t sound out of place on any of Crime In Stereo’s last few records. Then we transition into “Faint Feeling”, which is just an interlude type of track… some acoustic stuff with a few words sung over it. Never been a fan of tracks like this on releases this short.
“Framework” and “Good Terms” are the two fastest songs on the album featuring some more of their trademark lightning speed guitarwork. People who have been fans of the band from the beginning will appreciate and love these, especially the latter. Man, I still can’t figure out how they pull off some of these riffs live.
“Direction” is a song that flat out shreds it. There are so many intricacies to this song… it’s like they just decided to keep adding to it in the studio to the point where they couldn’t fit anything else in. The ender, “Whatever”, is another outstanding track that has some of the better melodies on the entire album.
Where this album lacks for me, is in the “catchy hooks” department. Don’t get me wrong, there are some very good melodies on this (like the last song) but not to the level of their previous work. However the musicianship took a step forward, which is reason enough to watch out for these guys in the future. I’m totally digging the new direction, as this release could end up being one of my favorite punk releases of 2013.