Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Album Review: I Call Fives - Someone That's Not You

Album Rating: B-
New Jersey natives I Call Fives have been a small name in the pop punk scene for quite some time now. After signing to Pure Noise Records, the group has put out an EP to build hype for their debut LP, to be released this summer. After a few years of lurking in the shadows, they’re soon to be right in the spotlight. The pressure is on, but whether or not I Call Fives can deliver is a bit of a mystery.

Someone That’s Not You is a 7" sporting only 4 tracks, and it seems that they weren't concerned about front loading the release. The EP kicks off with a bang as opener and title track “Someone That’s Not You” quickly builds into a ferocious pop punk jam. It's an impressive specimen that highlights the more recent trend toward hardcore influenced songwriting and energy in pop punk (think Veara or The Story So Far). The group goes so far as to incorporate a hardcore shout as an alternative vocal presence, which feels ever so slightly forced, but not out of place enough to really detract from the song. Driven with great purpose, the track sets the tone for the rest of the release.

“Backup Plan” follows, deviating from the opener. Though still pretty high energy pop punk, the emphasis has moved from punk to pop. It feels much more like a Sparks the Rescue anthem than anything. Though well executed, the track doesn’t feature too many memorable moments.

Flipping the 7" over, we find ourselves at the obligatory acoustic waltz “Lakeview.” My bias against the track is inevitable as I rarely enjoy these songs, and I really think it was a poor choice for the EP. Had the group endeavored to release four solid and concise tracks on the release, they could have been much more successful in impressing their potential fan base and thereby building much greater hype. However, they were contented with letting the b-side be b-side.

Album closer “How’s it Gonna Be” is the biggest question mark of the release. I Call Fives cover a Third Eye Blind track, which was an interesting and valid choice as the group was likely a large influence on I Call Fives. However, the band didn't do much to really make it their own. They added some bells and whistles, but they didn't deviate too much for the original. Perhaps with more creativity this could have been a solid closing track, but it ultimately falls short of its potential.

Lyrically, the EP is pretty mediocre, featuring acceptable coverage of typical pop punk themes across the board. However, one great benefactor of the record is its production. Crisp and clean, the EP sounds big, greatly increasing the impact of the catchy chord progressions. It just crosses the line to the side of overproduced, which actually works in the EP’s favor. I Call Fives isn’t fooling anyone with their poppy songwriting and isn’t afraid to show it through their production.

As flawed as the EP is in its construction, there is great promise beneath the surface. The first two tracks are the only material that really need be analyzed for the prediction of how the LP will turn out as the other two aren't really 'serious' tracks. The two a-side tracks are safe calls, but they really don't reveal too much. However, with more cohesion and a bit more creativity, the debut LP could be a very impressive effort. I Call Fives have the talent, they just need to deliver.


Track List:

1) Someone That's Not You
2) Backup Plan
3) Lakeview
4) How's it Gonna Be

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