By Broadway Calls
Pop-punk is currently a rather oversaturated genre; so, do we really need Broadway Calls' sophomore effort 'Good Views, Bad News?' Well, not really, although if you're looking for a 90s style, back-to-basics shot of melodic punk, you could do a whole lot worse than the Oregon three-piece. Broadway Calls are doing nothing new, but they're doing it well.
Suitably infectious album-opener 'Midnight Hour' ticks all the right boxes: a chorus you can sing along with halfway through the first listen; a frontman whose poppy vocals have an edge of snotty, teenage attitude; crashing yet melodic guitars; and bounding drumbeats. 'Midnight Hour' is far from being the next pop-punk anthem, but it has a youthful energy that's a little more genuine-sounding than most songs of this ilk. It won't have you bellowing rapturously along, but it'll certainly get you humming and tapping your feet.
Broadway Calls' take on their chosen genre is more rooted in the 90s pop-punk scene, when pop-punk still had a very strong punk element to it. Fittingly then, Broadway Calls treat us to two songs about punk-rock's favourite subject: politics. These are 'Election Night' and first single 'Be All That You Can't Be.' True, the latter's chorus of "you smile and you pretend / as you hand guns out to my friends" is hardly an incendiary political statement, and the crux of 'Election Night's political message seems to be that the right to vote is "amazing." Still, the lyrical content of both songs makes a refreshing change from the songs-about-girls territory usually occupied by bands of this genre, and 'Election Night's pro-voting message is commendable, taking into account the predominantly younger audience Broadway Calls are likely to attract.
While 'Election Night' has subtler, more bass-driven melodies, frontman Ty Vaughn's vocal performance more than compensates for this less aggressively happy approach, as he hollers, chirps and "whoa-oh-oh"s out one hooky vocal line after another. 'Election Night' is a solid pop-punk song, but Ty Vaughn's vocal talents are what'll sell it to you.
After delivering anti-war and pro-democracy messages, Broadway Calls tackle another topic much-beloved of pop-punk: tour fatigue. 'Give Up The Ghost's more angsty subject matter is matched by marginally less buoyant music. Stripped of that sunny charm, 'Give Up The Ghost' can't quite compete with Broadway Calls at full pelt, but 'Best Year' is one Broadway Calls song that manages to take it down a notch, whilst still retaining all of those hooks. "This is a dark one for you," Ty Vaughn sings on the opening line. However, fear not, because Broadway Calls' idea of a "dark one" involves turning up the bass and name checking heartbreak every once in a while. The chorus is still crammed with sing along vocals and poppy melodies, and the drums still bound enthusiastically along, meaning that, despite being the album's "dark" song, 'Best Year' has those vital hooks that 'Give Up The Ghost' lacks.
As already mentioned, a major factor in 'Good Views, Bad News's success, is Ty Vaughn's ability to turn every line into a big, shiny vocal hook, even when the lyrical content is so weak, it's almost meaningless. On the foot-stamping punk-rock of 'Basement Royalty,' Ty Vaughn's rousing battle-cry may just move you to bellow along, like you have the faintest idea what he's banging on about ("give me sensation / of anything / hail to the kings and the queens of basement royalty.") And that's before Broadway Calls up the ante with a massive, group sing along.
'Wake Up Call' makes only slightly more sense, with a chorus of "I can feel the indifference / what's the difference / whoa-oh" that's so insanely hooky, it'll set up permanent residence in your frontal lobe. But, you'll hardly notice the slightly nonsensical lyrical content, as the song whips past on a runaway juggernaut of finger-scorching riffs that'll drag you along for the ride.
'Tonight Is Alive' and 'To The Sheets' are two songs where Broadway Calls' eager enthusiasm is even more tangible. Ty Vaughn sings every word like he means it, which makes it possible to overlook the fact that this sort of big, brash, teeny-bopper pop-punk has been done a million times before. Their over-the-top blend of exuberant vocals, pogo-ing drums and rocketing riffs makes 'Tonight Is Alive' and 'To The Sheets' two doses of shiny, smiley pop-punk. It's not big and it's not clever, but it is a lot of fun.
And, in snugly familiar fashion, 'Good Views, Bad News' comes to a close with a bit of lighters-in-the-air balladry. 'At The End' is a swaying, sparkling slow number, crammed with whining side-guitar, heartfelt vocals and rumbling drumbeats. It may not slap a big, dumb smile on your face, but 'At The End' is the fitting and expected end to this sort of modern, melodic punk album, and a big part of 'Good Views, Bad News's appeal is its instant familiarity.
'Good Views, Bad News's echews the past ten years' gradual slide towards a more poppy pop-punk, and instead takes its cue from 90s melodic punk bands such as Green Day and The Offspring. Although their song writing ability is nowhere near Green Day/The Offspring calibre, 'Good Views, Bad News' is nevertheless one for the pop-punk purists. Hopefully, Broadway Calls won't get lost amongst the glut of Myspace pop-punk acts, and will find an appreciative audience.