Kyoto Drive

This Is All We Ever Wanted

Written by: TL on 04/03/2010 21:35:06

A good while ago we were emailed by a small British band called Kyoto Drive, who asked if we could please review their very first EP, called "Spotlights And Stars". In line with our usual policy, we of course agreed to do so, and the task was appointed to me, and much to my surprise, I ended up quite liking the début of this relatively inexperienced bunch, hence I also held expectations up for the pop-punk four-piece's début LP, and gave it a good number of spins before sitting down to write this review.

The truth is though, that my many listens to this disc, it still forces me to do something I'm not particularly fond of - Namely describing a band that has approached us with manners of grace and enthusiasm, in a way that probably won't earn them many fans among our readers. Allow me to explain:

Kyoto Drive won my affection in the first place, in spite of the baby-step nature of their sound, by playing a style of music that's always great. That being a mixture of New Found Glory pop-punk and early Taking Back Sunday emo-rock, composed into four songs, three of which I still recognize easily every time I put "Spotlight And Stars" on. Soundwise, not much has changed on this first full length, humbly titled "This Is All We Ever Wanted". Despite an intro that sounds somewhat more aggressively punk than what the band used to, things quickly settle into their familiar sound, which brings thoughts of naivety and nostalgia to mind. However, 10+ listens in and I'm still barely feeling more songs than the one from the EP that makes a reappearance, namely "Don't Turn Your Back On The Sun" - Which is now more obviously titled "Makeup Doesn't Cover Everything", and symptomatically for the album, I must admit that I liked it better the way it was before..

I've been trying to get into this stuff, but so far, only the songs in between which the previously mentioned one is sandwiched, "I'd Give It All" and "Are You Taking Me Apart Just To See How My Insides Work?" seem to leave any lasting impression in my mind whatsoever, and I only have vague ideas as to why that might be. I guess I feel like the power of the vocals, that sound of youthful enthusiasm, doesn't come as much into its right as it did before. Possibly because of another issue, namely that the tracks aren't as dynamic as they were before. The extortion of inserting pseudo-corny quiet parts just before loud ones may be one that's used a lot these days, but hey, it was something that worked out for this band, so hearing it utilized to much lesser effect, I'm afraid leaves them with precious little else to offer.

Simply put, where the last record had three out of four tracks making an impact, this one barely has three out of ten, and as a result, Kyoto Drive are in stark danger of sinking back into the grey sea of struggling British pop-punk bands, few of which have anything worthwhile to offer the genre. Before they managed to avoid it, by having those emo moments which contrasted the pop-punk well, but here, I'm just not feeling them. It doesn't help them that I can listen to their EP and like them much better, and it doesn't help them that I can listen to "Fighting Talk" here, and be reminded of "Cute Without The E" (Taking Back Sunday) - which puts it all too clear how far from a fantastic début this really is. Rather than that, it feels like this band have been put to work on an album far too early. I'm thinking that rather they should have put out one or two more EP's, honing, refining and maybe expanding their sound a little, because this - I mean it's not bad music, it's just fairly boring and predictable. It doesn't sweep you along. The songs aren't really impressive, nor is the sound or the skill, and in the end, I think that if Kyoto Drive eventually bounce back and make it big, this record will be their "Evening Out With Your Girlfriend".

Download: Makeup Doesn't Cover Everything, I'd Give It All
For The Fans Of: New Found Glory, old Taking Back Sunday, You Me At Six, Fastlane
Listen: myspace.com/kyotodrive

Release Date 26.02.2010
Engineer / Pacific Ridge Records

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