Valencia

We All Need A Reason To Believe

Written by: TL on 18/12/2008 12:48:23

After I've been seemingly slandering the pop punk scene non-stop for a good while now, it seems more and more as if 2008 wanted to shut me up, as the year has actually shown us a fair share of credible bands that are in some way associated with that scene, if not implicitly pop punk by style. Names like YouMeAtSix and Houston Calls come to mind as examples of bands that have done their part in the effort to erase the horrible memory of Forever The Sickest Kids from my mind. The same holds true for Valencia and their sophomore record "We All Need A Reason To Believe" that came out this summer.

And yeah, it is indeed hard not to associate Valencia with the pop punk scene, given the slight similarity to, for instance, Cute Is What We Aim For, however, there's really nothing pop or punk about them, and instead I find it more accurate to apply a more constructed term like "light emotional rock" to their sound. What this really means is that long-time followers of this kind of music will recognize Valencia as a band that sound mostly similar to Mae, while those on the lookout for a more contemporary point of reference may think of YouMeAtSix. Similarly to Mae, Valencia are all about softness and subtlety, and while a good deal of their songs are up-tempo, the energy and size of their expression is always kept under restraints. As for the YMAS reference, that comes from the delightful notion that instead of trying to jam-pack their sound with as many gimmicks and cheesy teen-oriented lines as possible, the boys have actually concentrated on writing songs that just plain work, using traditional compositions and backing their arrangements, mostly with violins in moments where that kind of thing seems to fit. This kind of no-bullshit approach is something all the scenester upstarts could learn from, as the result is that "We All Need A Reason To Believe" only has 2-3 songs that are not memorable in one way or another, and none that are in any way bad or annoying.

And no, I'm not saying that Valencia are by any means reinventing any wheels here. The violin thing has arguably been done to death already, and better so by YMAS than Valencia manage, and as for the songwriting then no, there's no grand and impressive revolution going on, but for once in a reviewers life it's just nice to hear something that's believable and just works. Making a good record is walking a fine line between selling yourself out by trying too hard to appeal to people, and confusing shit for silver by trying to be 'different', and thankfully Valencia keep their balance on this album. It's a good and catchy listen, and with it, the band take steps towards the big leagues, even while there still is a length to travel before they can truly be considered a force of their own.

Download: Better Be Prepared, Holiday, All At Once, The Good Life
For The Fans Of: Mae, YouMeAtSix, Cute Is What We Aim For, early Cartel
Listen: myspace.com/valencia

Release Date 26.08.2008
Columbia Records

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