Sunday, June 22, 2014

Learn to Speak EP by Search/Party

Grade: 8.3
1. We've Got Dodson Here (Nobody Cares)
2. You're Likely to be Eaten by a Grue
3. Better is Always Better
4. Grigsby to Secret Mountain Base

I like this EP a lot, which may surprise a lot of you because I'm so critical of homegrown music. Search/Party is your quintessential punk-pop band and they've fully honed their skills in the genre. The guitars are precise and timed perfectly, the drums are damn solid (I hear too many shitty drummers on Bandcamp), and Joss Rose's vocals are both adolescent and aged simultaneously. Also, the production is great, really great! They did a good job. All this makes for a fucking great band. They lack a bit of originality in my opinion. They proclaim themselves to be alternative ("Pulling influences from every genre"), but I do feel like I've heard music like this a million times. It reminds me of my adolescence, aimless time spent listening to bands like Blink 182, Green Day, Simple Plan, Yellowcard, The Japandroids, etc.. Perhaps since I'm not exactly a punk connoisseur, I have trouble noticing differences amongst punk bands. Regardless, the sound that Search/Party has adopted is strong, and they do anthemic punk-pop quite well.

Track one (We've Got Dodson Here [Nobody Cares]) is quick and smart, mixing metaphors and evoking deep emotions like it's child's play. It tells a story of a forlorn lover who misses his ex-girlfriend. If this isn't cliche enough, the hook uses the ubiquitous Nietzsche quote "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger". Now, if I were a musician, I'd be slow to use any sort of philosophy that was repackaged in a Kelly Clarkson song, but I'm a pretentious dick and there's plenty of room for bromides in punk. The song is also very optimistic, which is cool to see on a punk album. I've often been frustrated by punk albums that are excessively pissy. I like this song a lot, but my biggest critique of it is that it is hook-heavy. Now, this is another prominent feature of punk-pop so my criticism isn't a big deal, but the second song is also really hook-heavy. Two hook-heavy songs in succession seems excessive to me. Lastly, the track name is based on Jurassic Park I think. They name is wrong, which could be an accident or intentional and too esoteric for me to decode. This is funny as fuck BTW.

Track two (You're Likely to be Eaten by a Grue) is slower and sadder than track one. It solemnly takes stock of pains and offers consolation. Though, in my opinion, the consolation feels half-hearted, almost empty. It's an interesting effect. The song is a good change of pace for the record, though it is just as anthemic and hook-heavy as track one. A grue is a mythical monster that has appeared in several works of literature and more recently in myriad internet memes.  

Track three (Better is Always Better) flows seamlessly from track two and eradicates the emotional turmoil purported in that track. It replaces it with a sort of hedonistic whimsy, founded upon softer guitars and soaring vocals. Rose croons about happy memories and is hopeful for those to come. I truly do love this angst-free punk-pop. Track three is definitely my favorite track on this album. It isn't quite as hook-heavy as the first two tracks. Instead, its power is founded on expert vocal layering, that sounds damn perfect. They did a really good job mixing all of this. 

Track four (Grigsby to Secret Mountain Base) takes the emotions back to sadness and introspection. The layering is great on this song as well. These guys are really talented musicians. One can tell that they worked hard on this EP. Nothing is smudged. The lyrics are smart and quick. I think that the title refers to the band's base of operations in Colton, Oregon, but if anyone has any more insight on this (or any other reference), comment below.

This is a really great EP. It's a damn solid punk-pop entry. You should all listen to it.