Amber Pacific

The Turn

Written by: TL on 25/09/2014 19:27:09

An eternity ago, back in 2007, I fell hard for Seattle-based pop-punk outfit Amber Pacific and their second album "Truth In Sincerity", from which I will still occasionally jam a song like "Summer (In B)". Much has happened since then however, and when the band last made noise it was with Canadian singer Jesse Cottam replacing former frontman-turned-school principal Matt Young on 2010's "Virtues", which I was perhaps a bit too generous towards in terms of grades, considering the blank I draw now, trying to remember anything specific about that record. Nevermind that though, because Cottam has stepped back out and Young has stepped back in, so while bassist Greg Strong has resigned, the current line-up - which is completed by guitarists Will nutter and Justin Westcott and drummer "Dango" - is actually comprised of members that have all been involved with the group for several years, prompting some excitement for the band's new album "The Turn".

Regretably though, listening to "The Turn" isn't quite as eventful as reading the band's history, because for better and worse, precious little has changed in Amber Pacific's musical world over the past eight years. "The Turn" features highly polished pop-punk, reminiscent of bands like Yellowcard or Cartel, only soaked in orchestral instrumentation and produced with an Angels And Airwaves-style echo to it. I'll be the first to admit that I missed Matt Young on the last album, because his youthful, Tom Delonge-ish vocal is more characteristic than Cottam's, but it's hard not to notice that his way of singing melodies - albeit catchy in a very immediate way - is extremely simple at every turn of, well, "The Turn". The album features guest appearances to spice things up, and there's life in the basswork of MxPx's Mike Herrera on album opener "Undone", but you have to stay attentive to notice the "whoa-ohs" and bridge contributed by All Time Low's Alex Gaskarth on "When I Found You", and while Darianne Westcott lends a female touch to the singing on the ballad "Next To Me" her performance is only noteworthy for breaking the overall tone of the album.

The closest the album comes to offering something of lasting value is in "Undone" and "Safe For Now", mainly because they bring back some of the reckless punk speed that also characterised "Summer (In B)" way back when, and the injection of rampant drum beats actually strikes a working contrast with the otherwise anthemic style. That said, it's hardly a compliment to a band to say that they mainly sound good when they're playing super fast, since the speed merely blurs out the fact that for a band that has been around for so long, Amber Pacific's take on the pop-punk sound is remarkably unambitious in 2014. Like a budget epic "The Turn" lacks both depth of character and musical ideas that haven't been done similarly too many times before, with the consequence being that despite obvious easy melodies, the songs are forgotten almost before they're over. I get that Amber Pacific have always been about making sugary melodies, but their comeback attempt still feels a bit too much like empty calories.


Download: Undone, Safe For Now
For The Fans Of: Yellowcard, Cartel, A Loss For Words, A Road To Damascus

Release date 02.09.2014

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