1994 EP

Written by: PP on 02/12/2008 01:18:48

I've been seeing the name 1994 pop up every now and then on a number of respected online magazines on the other side of the pond, so I figured it's about time to check out what all the buzz is about and introduce these guys to our readers as well. Basically, they are a new pop punk band who were growing up in the 90s and developed a love for the genre, and their self-titled debut EP is basically their take on it.

And I must say, the EP starts out phenomenally with "So When I Say", with technical riffs in the vein of A Wilhelm Scream / Bigwig dominating the soundscape. The singer bears great similarity to the vocalist from Armor For Sleep, he has the same emotionally charged clean vocal croon that's got just enough angst to sound appealing instead of annoying, and here's where the band really hits gold, because I for one haven't yet heard elements from hardcore punk and pop punk combined this well before. The speed varies from the frantic punk rock drumbeat to the mellow (but huge) bits in the same song, and it's pretty damn catchy. The production is left near-perfect, leaving some sharp edges around the guitars, just the way I like it as well.

If only the rest of the EP would follow suit.

After the explosive beginning, 1994 namely seem content in just sounding like a "Smile For Them"-era Armor For Sleep clone with few - if any - references to the sound they offered us on the first track. Now that's not something I would otherwise have a problem with, because I thought that album was brilliant, but 1994 lack the same kind of emotional outbursts that Armor For Sleep has in songs like "Williamsburg". Here, it feels as if 1994 is always one or two steps behind their obvious inspiration, so close to sounding great but unable to add the final missing ingredient, and it really hurts my impression of the band. "Wake Up Wake Up" is a great example of that.

Now, the final track "Stay Where You Are" restores some of my faith in the band. They've upped the speed a little in the beginning, and the drumming sounds more solid (though simplistic) here. The problem is just that the song is 6 minutes long, so for the three to four minutes it takes for the band to reach the Anberlin-esque emotional outburst climax of the song, the listeners attention easily withers away. That's a great shame, because the last minutes of the song are finally on par with Armor For Sleep.

Anyway, for their next release, 1994 needs to first of all figure out if they want to do that pop punk meets hardcore elements with focus on the pop style, as on the first song on this EP, or continue in the shadow of Armor For Sleep. I'd hope for the former, because that's when the band sounds original, but considering the other four songs suggest otherwise, I'm not holding high hopes for that - or their eventual debut album.


Download: So When I Say
For the fans of: Armor For Sleep, Anberlin
Listen: Myspace

Release date September 2008

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