This debut full length is the final product spawned from months of basement shows, DIY tours and relentless self-promotion, not forgetting being formally named as the focal point for Vans’ Warped Tour storyline entitled “No room for rockstars”. They have come a long way since flogging their demos at the 2010 Warped Tour, and they have a valiant effort to show for it.
Intro track Learning shows the album finding its feet, as it is introduced with chords slowly reaching a crescendo with a driving, sunny pop-punk beat and slow, melodic vocals interwoven into the mix, before blasting effortlessly into second track For the Wolves. Although they are over in two minutes flat they set the album up to be a catchy, fast-paced and toe tapping-ly brilliant, if you can get past the fact that it is so stereotypically pop punk it hurts.
Sharing its name with the album, The Contender breaks the mould of just being “generic pop punk” by showing beautifully controlled guitars and the introduction of more prominent vocals than just thrashing around to the beats of summer. You get the feeling through this song that it is full of prior un-released angst and annoyance throughout giving extra drive and bile through the words making it spine-tingling in ways as it shows extra depth to their sunny exterior.
Already a fan favourite thanks to their split with Handguns, Front Porch Favourite spits feelings straight into your brain from the stereo and again, displays a new and slightly edgier side to the Palms, California boys. Despite this, it still keeps elements of the ordinary which don’t strike me as particularly different, and in ways makes this track blend in with the mix of the other tracks making the album slightly monotonous as it goes on.
I’ll Be Better I Promise is a massive move for the band, reminiscent of Indie moaners Transit or pop-punk’s heartbroken Man Overboard. In my eyes, this is a very welcome different in the album. It breaks it up and shows that Forever Came Calling are capable of so much more than originally meets the eyes and ears, they can actually delve into different musical pools instead of splashing around in their own comfort zone.
For me, the key tracks within this album are The Contender, Front Porch Favourite and questionably I’ll Be Better I Promise and the stand out tracks on this album really do stand out, they’re a giant leap for Forever Came Calling and for that they should be proud. Despite this, the album is pretty “same old, same old” and has the danger of falling by the way side. It’s catchy as anything, but slightly boring after a couple of repeats, one to check out, but easy to forget, sadly.