After listening to the “Someone That’s Not You” EP, released back in March, you started to get a sense that I Call Fives might have what it takes to stand out in the populated world of pop-punk. Could they break the curse of the genre, in which catchy and simple guitar riffs, paired with sing-along style lyrics, could easily become redundant? Could they use their self titled full length to further separate themselves from the collective field? Short answer: yes. Because with that self titled album, I Call Fives has created a pure pop-punk sound, which differentiates itself enough to be unique.
The album starts off with “Late Nights” (below) which employs various semi-screaming background vocals, giving the song a little something extra, helping to set it apart. The lyrics in the opener also begin a thread that’s heard throughout the album, in which the lyricist is tired of not being appreciated, resulting in the moving on from a relationship. “Obvious” follows, further cementing this theme of being scorned, as frontman Jeff Todd states, “I’d have to climb into a casket to get as low as you just went.”
After the surprisingly sophisticated “Backup Plan,” I Call Fives fully hits their stride in the middle chunk of the record, beginning with “The Fall Guy.” The slower paced track changes up the flow of the album, while also supplying fans with a sure-fire sing-a-long at a future live show. Side A ends with “Enemy,” the fastest paced and shortest song on the album. It’s yet another pace change, but again, one they pull off admirably.
On Side B, the band switches the theme up a little, as scorn gives way to a dose of positivity. For example, “Wrong Things” is more motivational than anything else, as the lyrics touch on the idea of chasing your dreams, while not wasting time on what could end up meaning nothing. The band also incorporates more backup vocals in the second half of the album, allowing the contrast in the back up singer’s voice to give the songs a memorable touch. And that’s where the one criticism comes in. The addition of the backup vocals worked so well, that you wish they had been incorporated in to more songs. The album ends with “Sleepwell,” another strong pop-punk song.
Sound Quality: The album sounds excellent on vinyl. The sound is as clear as a digital copy, while hearing the songs through the speakers also lets the energy of each one be felt even more.
Packaging: The album comes in the standard jacket, along with a lyric sheet. Pure Noise Records does a good job with this release in terms of pressing colors. as the record was released on cyan blue with Easter yellow splatter, half baby blue/half clear, and double mint green. All came out quite beautifully.
Extras: The digital download is a nice extra. The release was pretty standard for a new LP.
Summary: I Call Fives’ self titled album is a pop-punk record in its purest form. Even though pop-punk is one of most popular genres in music today, it’s not an easy one to master. Songs can run together and be repetitive, so it’s up to the band to find ways to stick out. Groups like Man Overboard and The Story So Far have done just that, but now, you’ll have to add I Call Fives to the list, as well. The use of strategic backup vocals, along with a more mature and sophisticated sound has separated them in the pop-punk world without sacrificing any elements that makes their music a great time.
Make Sure To Spin: “Backup Plan” and “Wrong Things”
I Call Fives’ self titled abum is still available over at the Pure Noise Records’ webstore.