A Will Away

Bliss EP

Written by: TL on 26/03/2015 15:14:55

The last time we heard from Connecticut emo/pop-punk group A Will Away, their "Cold Weather" EP from last year ended on a high note, but spinning a remarkably irresistible tune for a song that was essentially about wanting to punch someone (seriously though, "The Masochist's Daughter", listen to it, it's great). The group is back after little more than a year with a new EP in "Bliss" which flips the script by having its best tunes up front, and by casting the band in an ever so slightly more mature version, as the obvious hooks are not as dramatically staged, and as the raspy vocals are a bit less ostentatious this time around. This makes the new songs sound less like the band's frontman is the type to sing the lyrics in a challenging in-your-face fashion, and more like ones he will sing to the ceiling with a dedicated group of fans shouting along at the front of the stage.

The shift is pretty subtle, but it shows a side of the band that's less like super dramatic pop-punk acts like a You Me At Six, and more like some of the relatively overlooked underground heroes like Stickup Kid or Elder Brother. They are no less catchy for it though, as opener "Play Dead" has its hook melody right up front already in the verse, and will soon have you singing "Put on your business cloooooothes" as soon as you hear it. The following "My Sitter" takes the tempo down a notch, yet the expressive, well-articulated vocals imbue the lyrics with enough dynamics to sound ready for a passionate singalong. You'll likely speculate that there's some Third Eye Blind inspiration at play here, especially when you hear the falsetto notes thrown in, and then the song makes a surprising tempo change in its bridge, setting a tone of romantic melancholy, as the staccato bass notes buzz in a way that evokes the best of memories from classic Jimmy Eat World material.

As such, things are best early on the record, when the mood is mainly restless and contemplative. With "Cheap Wine", things become more intensely regretful, with the lyrics circling around some unfortunate event between the narrator and a girl taking place while judgements were supposedly a hazy mix of "hesitation and light sedatives". The song gets a grimy tone from how it eventually makes a bitter attempt to place the blame for the narrator's poor judgement on the girl in the story. The song pairs with "Ten Or Eleven" however, in sounding most similar to Have Mercy, as the vocals grow increasingly scratched, howling in what sounds like a proper emotional purging. Regrettably, these tracks don't quite have as strong melodies as the best A Will Away have demonstrated thus far. The EP ends with "Be Easy", which initially revisits the Third Eye Blind-likeness especially in the rhythmic vocal hook of the chorus, but also has a sort of despondent tone that's reminiscent of Seahaven. Here there's some noticeable pitch correction left in the recording that makes you wonder if the singer was tired from letting it all hang out on "Ten Or Eleven" and/or if there was limited time and resources available to wrap up the production.

Overall though, the reason the review even concerns itself with such a level of detail is that A Will Away do very well at drawing and keeping the listener's attention. There's a sense to "Bliss" that the band is aware that their parent genre hasn't always been as shallow as some mistake it for, and that you can explore some more mature, sometimes darker themes and take your pop-punk to a more thoughtful place, while still retaining essential elements of catchiness and energy. It makes the EP an interesting listen, not exclusively to, but especially for genre aficionados. And when considered alongside the more energetic side the band showed on "Cold Weather", one is left actively hoping that they will write a solid batch of songs exploring the range of both EPs, then putting the best of those cuts together for a nice and diverse full-length album for us to dive into next.

Download: Play Dead, My Sitter, Cheap Wine
For The Fans Of: Stickup Kid, Elder Brother, Have Mercy, Third Eye Blind
Listen: facebook.com/AWillAwayOfficial

Release date 20.03.2015

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