Sudden Suspension

There's A Bigger Picture Here EP

Written by: TL on 04/08/2015 16:00:42

From Lake County, Indiana comes a fresh young pop-punk group called Sudden Suspension who have their third EP out in as many years, following 2013's "Second Place" and 2014's "Basement Songs" with the new "There's A Bigger Picture Here", which came out in mid-June. The band is new to our ears, but the impression of the new EP is that like many of their peers, Sudden Suspension takes very clear influence from The Wonder Years, yet unlike many of those same peers, they get this sound close enough to almost fool you, particularly due to how close 19-year-old singer Brandon Stasi sounds to the iconic 'Soupy' Campbell.

It does not take many listens to distinguish for better and worse why Sudden Suspension, are not The Wonder Years, however. On the technical side, their production unsurprisingly isn't as great on closer inspection, which you might not notice because the vocals and drums do well at keeping things moving in the front of the soundscape, yet if you concentrate on the guitars, their presence is mostly a ringing, reverb-laden, semi-melodious blur in the background. Suffice to say, if there's anything but basic, fast-paced chords here, then it's easy to mistake it for simple dramatic rumbling, that mainly succeeds at simply coating the songs with loads of energy and angsty sentimentality.

As mentioned though, you might not notice it too much, partly because it's not that unusual for pop-punk to be like this, but also partly because Stasi's vocal performance so easily holds the listener's attention, on one hand because of his great diction and on the other because of the heart-on-sleeve urgency he throws into it. You can hear what he's singing and you get the feeling that he means it, which only begs the question if what he's singing is any good. And that's where things get a bit hit and miss, for while the band sounds most like The Wonder Years, the lyricism often veers over into the cringeworthy territory of the much-debated Real Friends.

Stasi's lyrics and singing are pretty good in the opener "As Good As It Gets", which comes in after a nicely atmospheric intro track built on a moody guitar/piano interplay. The song jumps at you with the aforementioned guitars rumbling away and with Stasi keeping the syllable count intense, and the description of a scene, where a kind gesture is overinterpreted, is believable and engaging. The bridge is a good example of things getting too corny, though, with the repetition of "I never wanted to fall, I knew you wouldn't catch me". And this divisive tendency continues in the potentially over-cutesy opening of "Eventually" and the wallowing of "We'll Always Have Each Other".

In the corny parts, Sudden Suspension sound as young and questionable as their choice of band name, yet you tend to forgive them, partly because their sound does conjure up exactly the emotive energy that good "realist pop-punk" does in the first place, and partly because Stasi has a good number of encouraging lines to offer as well. "Cheap Seats" figures as a dark horse to become a favourite track moving forward, due to actually having something resemblant of a riff signature in there, plus of course the shoutalongable lines of "I'm sick of always getting anxious and driving around. Gas isn't getting cheaper and there's nowhere to go in THIS TOWN!" (Really, what would a pop-punk EP be without a complaint about "this town" ?)

Long story short, Sudden Suspension are here as another alternative to people who want more music in the veins of TWY and Real Friends, and a good one at that, accepting of course that TWY have been in a league of their own lyrically. The "There's A Bigger Picture Here" EP doesn't quite answer what will make Sudden Suspension stand apart moving forward, and there are cases where the "sing quiet, then shout the same thing" routine gets in the way of the emotions in the lyrics (see "We'll Always Have Each Other"), but at the same time, the band's honesty might not be quite as frequently muddled by cornyness as it has been the case with Real Friends for instance.

Download: As Good As It Gets, Cheap Seats
For The Fans Of: Real Friends, The Wonder Years, Forever Came Calling, Man Overboard

Release date 16.06.2015
Bad Timing Records

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