Artist: Forever Came Calling
Label: Pure Noise Records
When you put out a debut album, you set the tone for who you are as a band. EP’s and splits are good tastes as to what you will become and how you are progressing, but there is something about putting out a full length that that is completely different than smaller efforts. Yes, there are more tracks, but it’s also a complete work. It takes a much more throughout process during the creation process, because for it to be good, the album needs to mesh. Many bands put out collections of songs, not albums. I could call bands out, but that’s not very nice. The bands that matter and are successful right now in the scene are consistently putting out complete works rather than just songs.
To be frank, while I’ve always supported and liked what Forever Came Calling does, my fandom has never really extended more than “like.” I’ve supported them, hell I’ve even pushed them online. However there was something that just seemed to be missing for me from them. Maybe it was that the their debut EP wasn’t necessarily fantastic, but there was this part of me that knew this band could do something great, which was teased in their split with Handguns. I’ve been excited about FCC’s record Contender for a while purely because I love hearing band’s first releases because it kind of makes or breaks if I’ll put them into my normal rotation. I’m going to put the next sentence on it’s own line so you make sure to not skim over it.
Forever Came Calling’s Contender is easily one of the best pop-punk albums of the Summer thus far, if not the best.
From the opening of the album with “Learner,” you get this Brand New influenced intro that when played live is bound to get kids restless as they wait for the impending onslaught of pop-punk fury. The minute that track opened up Contender, I knew I was going to be in love. Bands who have intros like that have a key to my heart, and that probably won’t change anytime soon. It happened with The Story So Far’s “Roam,” and it happened again with FCC’s “Learner” right into “For the Wolves.” Once this opening is done, the album only gets bigger. Is it a coincidence that both of these albums were produced in Panda Studios with Sam Pura? Definitely not. Pura is becoming one of these producers who continues to gain classics under his belt that after some more years of creating records will probably put him in the likes of legendary producers such as Steve Evetts. Enough of that though, let’s talk more about the album.
Musically, this album has a lot of different layers, but not too many where you find yourself having to listen to it over and over again. The record is absurdly catchy, to the point where you can’t figure out how they did it. It’s perfect for all types of weather, however you’ll probably get the most smiles out of it when you’re going 80 mph down the highway with all your windows down. You’ll hear a lot of influences from Taking Back Sunday’s Tell All Your Friends, as well as the previously mentioned band Brand New’s record Your Favorite Weapon. To a lot of music lovers, these albums are classics. While I won’t go as far to say that Contender is of that caliber, I think it gets really damn close. The album starts off really strong and then I think loses a little bit of steam with the last two songs, but that could be different for other people.
Lyrically, Joe kills it on this record. “Ides” cut to the core of me when I first heard it and it is even better in the context of the rest of the record. There are always those songs that sing your own life’s pains, and “Ides” tells the story of loss but triumphing over the sadness that accompanies it. Despite what appears to be bad circumstances that come up throughout the songs on Contender, Joe keeps a positive attitude that I think is absolutely necessary in life today. A lot of bands are riding on the posi-punk train after the success of The Wonder Years, and while this isn’t a bad thing at all, Joe never comes across heavy handed. There are never the “I love this town” or “my friends come first” moments that come across cliché, and while he sometimes talks about these themes, it’s in a more symbolic way. Another standout track for me lyrically include “I’ll Be Better I Promise,” as it tells the story of being away from someone you really care about. Again, this subject is not new to the genre, but it feels more fresh. I actually got tears in my eyes when I listened to this in the Orlando airport after leaving my girlfriend after our vacation together. I’ve found it hard recently for bands to do that to me, cause I listen to a lot of music and I’ve found songs to fill those sad moments. That should tell you something about this new record.
I could go on and on about how much I love Forever Came Calling’s Contender, but the best thing to do is just listen to it for yourself. No amount of me raving about it changes the experience of just sitting down and listening to a record from front to back. Listen to the lyrics. Listen to the melodies. Don’t half ass it. In this digital age we lose the excitement of putting a record on and just sitting and vibing to it. We try and multi-task, and in that disjointed way of living we sometimes lose the effect of “the first listen.” Give Forever Came Callings record the 25 minutes or so of your undivided attention. You’ll thank me later when you’re crawling on top of people’s heads screaming the lyrics to “Front Porch Sunrise.”
Standout Tracks: “Ides,” “The Office,” “Front Porch Sunrise,” “I’ll Be Better I Promise”
Reviewed by Tyler Osborne