Written by: PP on 18/04/2013 00:03:40

Cartel start their new album "Collider" by singing about second chances, which is ironic really, as many people had written this band off after the god-awful "Cartel" in 2007, and the almost completely irrelevant "Cycles" two years later. What once started as polished, clean-cut pop punk regressed into mere pop rock with no substance, and it was as bland as it was uninspiring, as forgettable as it was dime-a-dozen against its closest contemporaries on the radio stations. "Collider" then is a somewhat of a turnaround, and a definite throwback to their arguably seminal debut album "Chroma" that catapulted the band to the throne of the polished pop punk scene back in 2005. Considering I had initially considered skipping this release altogether, we can talk about second chances especially given how the band has turned a hostile attitude around into one that's about to send some stern words of praise their way.

Initial prejudice aside, "Collider" is the finest album Cartel have written since "Chroma" - perhaps because it's the first album they've released since then not on a major label. While it may take a few listens to convince you if you had given up on the band like the undersigned, it'll be worth it, because Cartel are back at writing upbeat, bright pop punk with summery vibes. Yes, it's on the polished and extremely poppy end of the scale, but where bands like The Maine and, to an extent, Hit The Lights sound cliché when playing that style, Cartel's sound breathes honesty and songwriting prowess, making Motion City Soundtrack the most appropriate comparison here. A little too much sometimes, given how closely "Uninspired" (ironically, again) mimics the exact sound that boosted MCS into popularity on their breakthrough album "My Dinosaur Life". But holistically, "Collider" sees Cartel return to catchy songwriting that's big on vocal hooks, which is what "Chroma" was all about. Additionally, the band are way better musicians than they were eight years ago, so "Collider" integrates the former's strengths with solid riffs as well.

The album ends on an odd note with the title track and to an extent also "A Thousand Suns" feeling more like atmospheric post-hardcore songs than anything else. Here, references to Saosin are appropriate, which is something I personally never though I'd say in the context of a Cartel review. What's even more intriguing is that "Collider" is one of the best tracks on the album, despite sounding like night and day compared to the bright, Hit The Lights style bouncy opening track "Second Chances". It's an interesting curveball that leaves the album hanging in your memory where it could have otherwise risk being dismissed as yet another pop punk album. Instead, you're left thinking about why "Collider" sticks to your mind as one of the best clean-and-polished pop punk albums in recent years.


Download: Collider, Best Intentions, Second Chances, Thin Air
For the fans of: Hit The Lights, The Starting Line, Socratic, Valencia, Motion City Soundtrack
Listen: Facebook

Release date 26.03.2013

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