Saturday, May 29, 2010

work/sleep Review

When it comes to pop-punk, the way you deliver it can easily make or break you. For the Boston based power-pop group The Appreciation Post, they stumble back and forth between effectively poppy music and the filler-ridden formulas of their genre predecessors. They could easily be compared to pop-punk powerhouses All Time Low. With energetic tunes and lyrics about relationships and partying, they certainly show a striking resemblance to the current stars in the genre. To put it simply, occasionally it works and other times it falls hard. On the group's most recent EP, work/sleep, they attempt to find their feet as a band ultimately establish themselves as legitimate artists. Whether this works or not is based entirely on how much filler you can tolerate in seven songs.

The prominent feel throughout the record is synonymous with that mindset present throughout the summer -- Adventurous and blissfully carefree. Whether this works to the album's advantage is up to the listener. Some may enjoy the poppy, synth driven rhythms that each song thrives on; however on the other end of the spectrum some listeners may be bored by the cliché, sometimes overused, pop-punk formulas that are also pronounced throughout the EP. The opening track "The Beating of a Lifetime", encompassing each aforementioned aspect, will easily tell you whether you'll enjoy this record or not. It immediately begins with an upbeat drum pattern mixed with groovy synth and quickly brings in the guitar to give you the combination that the remainder of the record utilizes (or abuses). This is one of the better songs on the album (if not the best); however from there it becomes a teetering shift between memorable and mediocre.

On I'm No Sure Thing it becomes apparent that the group has no real interest in having diversity with their music. The monotonous repetition of chorus' and the same relatively boring synth pattern is all that's there to keep you entertained amongst the not-so-spectacular guitar riffs and drum patterns. However the group seems to be aware of how they operate as suggested by the shout of "This is prolific filler!" on Doom & Gloom. It's at this point where it becomes apparent that the group isn't trying to take themselves too seriously and simply provide a fun listen, but this doesn't come at a price. Whether it's blatantly stated or not, there remains a good deal of filler here. No Songs Is Good Songs utilizes that same formula of verse/chorus/verse/repeat, which isn't uncommon in the genre, but it's used so often here that it comes out hollow and uninspired. Then there's the entirely unnecessary Better My Future, a thirty-seven second display of pure filler. It may seem that all hope is lost for work/sleep, but fortunately for The Appreciation Post, they pull out a couple songs to end the album properly.

Fear Of Loss gives this EP the burst of energy it so desperately needed. It pulls it from the pop-punk monotony that plagues its first half. All the scattered instruments finally come together to make a very fun listen. While this doesn't redeem the mistakes made previously, it at least gives the listener a taste of what the group is capable of other than formulaic tracks about girls and parties. On the final track Moving Backwards, vocalist Jim Keaney gives his best vocal performance on the record, though it should be noted that he's great on nearly every track. He has a great voice for what the group is trying to do and always gives a confident tinge to each line.

Musically speaking, the EP really has nothing special to it. The instrumentation is everything you'd expect from a group in the genre and it begins to feel stale by the third track where the synth and guitar seem to melt into each other creating a truly boring mess. It will easily hook the party crowd with each track having a catchy feel to it, but in hindsight it provides nothing new and is a terribly safe attempt at musicianship. Only a few aforementioned times is it effective in context with the record and from there on out it becomes recycled and tired. Had there maybe been a little instrumental diversity to keep the attention of the listener, it would have been a much more substantial listen.

It's difficult to describe work/sleep without bouncing back and forth between a positive and negative opinion. On a few tracks, it really shines as an extremely fun listen, but when taken with the filler and monotony of other songs, it becomes apparent that The Appreciation Post may want to reconsider their approach. As mentioned previously, they try to stay a happy-go-lucky group, not taking themselves too seriously. However this seems to work against them with their music coming out hollow and overall boring. The appeal of it all is difficult to find amongst the filler which in the end becomes the anchor to keep them at the bottom of the power-pop sea.

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