Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The City Calls - A Spark To Ignite EP Review

Fans of pop-punk's freshest hipsters The City Calls have a mere matter of days to wait now for the release of the anticipated 'A Spark To Ignite'. I was lucky enough to get an advance listen, and for fans of the band or simply the genre alike, I can tell you won't be disappointed.

1/Get Away/ An explosive start to the CD with loads of great guitar work going on parts for the fantastic and mature vocals that lead the way into the first verse. The space allowed by the rest of the band creates a great listening platform to really listen to the lyrics before the energetic chorus burts onto the scene, featuring key-lyric 'You'll never bring us down' teasing in the background. This becomes the feature of the track after a slightly-more relaxed breakdown and a sure-fire singalong at live shows.

2/Kings/ The band have definitely mastered the art of creating a hook, as the second tracks starts as explosively as the first, drawing us in with all guns blazing. The dual-vocals work great here, tipping their caps to their pop-punk knowledge knowing exactly what works and also, what people expect to hear. There's definite Panic! influences in the vocals as the imaginative pre-chorus parts way for another really strong sounding chorus. The track peaks and dips in all the right places; were it too relentless, the effect on the listener is that of being punched in the face by this constant wall of sound but TCC have got it just right. The outro is cool too!

3/Truth or Dare/ A key-sounding song placed strategically in the middle of the EP which maintains the listener's interest without having to stray too far from the overall sound of the CD. The song-writing is really showcased here with a great mix of original ideas and, again, the predictable parts which are equally important. The vocals in the chorus are fantastic; great lyrics and a melody that are once again sure to rouse a singalong and also stick in your head for the rest of the day. The progressive breakdown section builds steadily before leaving the listener dangling in the eye of the storm as one last chorus springs us back to life, setting the wheels in motion for one final go round. A truly great pop-punk track.

4/Kryptonite/ Surely only an exclusively-student band could release a track of this name, although I'm not sure whether it's more reflective of the radioactive element or the dodgy student-favoured cocktail. Either way, this train is showing no signs of slowing as it thunders along onto track 4 that still has my feet tapping and head nodding along approvingly. This track feels to be all about the vocals and it's a great performance which doesn't take away from the imaginative guitar work going on in the background. It's quite brave to feature such a long solo-drum breakdown that doesn't particularly build but it sets up the great-sounding call and response section between the vocals and their backing really well.

5/Lucky Start/ I love the sound of the guitar intro; quite different sounding to everything that's come previously before it, which can be said for the progression and overall sound of the full track that follows. It's evident that the band rely heavily on the use of huge-sounding backing-vocals which definitely pay their dues at live shows; the audience always feel an important part of the gig. I really like this track which stands out for all the right reasons and love the short drum burst before the final chorus.

6/Meet In The Middle/ Already the journey is ending; the station is in sight and I fear we're in for a sudden halt rather than a gradual slow and this sums up the EP as a whole. It's been an energetic ride which hasn't failed to showcase mature-song writing abilities and fantastic musicianship along the way. The final track doesn't disappoint, continuing the trend of the preceding tracks and drives along nicely. Another great mix of double-time and half-time feels to maintain interest in the track feature whilst lending their sound well to the genre and the drawn-out vocal note just before the end is fantastic. This is another great release from The City Calls who should definitely not be underestimated and are surely well on their way to greater things.

You can purchase a copy of the EP from I Am Mighty Records or via the band's BigCartel stores, or it will be available to download from 12th August from iTunes and other digital outlets. Happy listening!

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Thanks for taking the time to write :)