Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Album Review: Courage My Love - For Now

Album Rating: B+
Looking back on the release of For Now, it's a little strange that Courage My Love didn't get more support than they did - they seem to be doing everything right. With just over 25,000 Facebook fans and only one YouTube video with more than 1 million views, it's unclear why the band didn't skyrocket like so many similar groups. After all, their marketing strategy seems rock solid. Hot chick singing and playing guitar? Check. Hot chick playing drums? Check (this alone probably should have doubled the size of their current fanbase alone). Hot chick playing bass? Well, no, but you can't be perfect. Ridiculous music videos that showcase said hot chicks and bassist? Check - just look at "Bridges," filmed on the field at a staged football game that's a bit like A Day To Remember's video for "I'm Made Of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?". Ridiculous song titles? Check - try "Anchors Make Good Shoes (If You Have Issues)." Going out of their way to appeal to a large potential group of fans (namely geeks)? Check - "I Sell Comics," a free download off of the band's Bandcamp page, uses part of comic don Walt Flanagan's work as lyrics.

But, most importantly, do they make catchy and fun pop punk? Check. For Now is seven songs worth of fantastically upbeat, distorted pop punk, its immediate appeal helped no doubt by lead singer Mercedes Arn-Horn's solid voice and surprisingly above-average guitar skills. One would be inclined to expect a teenager with a voice almost perfectly cut out for its genre would play guitar for show rather than substance, but the guitars on this EP are actually much more interesting than those of many counterparts, with a few extra layers behind the industry-standard crunchy power chords. A very close comparison point for this band is Aussie pop punk quintet Tonight Alive, with both groups making worthwhile music that's both catchy and created well. Although What Are You So Scared Of? is a slightly more fulfilling and fleshed-out release, no doubt helped by a length almost twice that of For Now, both are good slabs of pop punk bringing out much of what's good in the genre. Traces of songs like "Thank You And Goodnight" and "Starlight" are definitely visible on lead single "Bridges," with its excellently paced chorus that's one of the best pop-punk choruses I've heard in a while thanks to a nice synergy between the vocal harmonization and guitar strumming. Opener "For Now" is similar, with a very good transitions between verses and choruses which keep all the best elements of pop punk while not sounding fetid or stale.

Unfortunately, this EP doesn't quite have the same kind of variety that, while not absolutely necessary, helps to distinguish very similar releases. To continue the Tonight Alive analogy, this EP doesn't have its respective "Amelia" or "Safe And Sound" - that is, all seven songs are pretty similar. While closer "The River" comes close to giving the release an extra touch of individuality with its slightly slower tempo and different vocal style in the chorus, it's not quite the same as a full-out ballad or slower song in general would be. Also, the EP has its share of missteps, with a terrible metalcore-esque breakdown in "Barricade" which almost ruins the song standing out among other smaller mistakes scattered thinly throughout the release. However, this is still a very solid pop punk release. While it's not going to reinvent anything, For Now is still a very fun collection of songs which succeeds in a way that most good pop punk albums do. We'll have to wait to see if Courage My Love gains any more fame on future releases, fame people probably expected with this EP. I can safely say, though, given the quality of For Now, there's a very good chance that happens in the near future.


1. For Now
2. Anchors Make Good Shoes (If You Have Issues)
3. Disappear
4. Barricade
5. Smoke And Mirrors
6. Bridges
7. The River

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