SKILLET w/, Red Gazelle & RedHook Big Top, Luna Park, Sydney Thursday 15th November, 2018 …
The hardest thing to grasp about Pop-Punk, aside from it’s incredible longevity and nostalgic staple in our hearts, is how to write about band’s that essentially rely on hard-hitting riffs and catchy hooks, no more, no less. What’s really needed (and this applies to basically any music scene) is a band that can transcend the clichés that hold so many other copycats of the genre back, and for a band somehow craft a standout flavour amongst the other sheep in the paddock.
Thankfully, California 4-piece Forever Came Calling have begun to develop such a sound, with their new EP Retro Future packing enough vintage songwriting techniques to avoid being a bland riff-fest.
While opener Mine to Mould sounds like the typical opening track of any local support act on a bigger band’s anniversary tour of an old classic LP, there’s enough dynamic movement of Nostalgic / Obsessive & Kansas City to show listeners that Forever Came Calling have an ear for musical texture.
The constant shifting in groove of the drumming, in addition to ever-morphing lead guitar lines behind the driving rhythm section, prevent any sense of boredom or repetition setting in, with each listen becoming catchier and more enjoyable.
Retro Future shows that Forever Came Calling are committed to writing beautiful songs as well as throwing themselves around onstage, an example that more than a few bands in todays scene can take heed of.
Borrowed Cars is the best combination of the old and the classic found here, with the song building to an anthemic yet heartfelt chorus that convinces the listener of a sense of genuine angst behind the studio glass.
However, it’s tough to put out music in this bare bones, guitar, bass and drums genre and not have any shortcomings magnified in the studio. Case in point with Retro Future is the lack of lyrical depth running through each track. Nostalgic / Obsessive retreats to the monotonous bottle of shame, communicating heartbreak and loneliness through the lines “Double down on the whisky now, I’m alone// Louder than the loudest sound I know,” in what is no doubt an attempt at vulnerability, but results in the same old story we’ve heard on every LP since 1960.
Likewise, the beautifully metronomic and slow build of WISH is let down by lines like “There is a shallow grave that I’m dancing on, but I’m moving on”, culminating in the motivation to “turn the page, initiate the calling phase.” While the music is thoughtful, tender and given space to slowly evolve, lines like this sound more like screen grabs from the MSN account of a year 8 student getting ready to make his first phone call to a girl, adding a frustrating sense of childishness to the otherwise beautiful music.
Despite this, Retro Future avoids being just another pop-punk EP to cast onto the pile of bands that played the 1pm slot at Warped. Retro Future shows that Forever Came Calling are committed to writing beautiful songs as well as throwing themselves around onstage, an example that more than a few bands in todays scene can take heed of.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Kansas City, Borrowed Cars
STICK THIS NEXT TO: All Time Low, As It Is, Breakaway