Review Summary: Fairly standard pop rock which could and should have been so much better.
Absolutepunk.net really doesn’t deserve the shi
t it gets. I don’t really visit the site that much anymore, but a year or so ago I was a fairly keen frequenter of Tate and the gang. Sure, their tagline may reek of prepubescent vomit and Jason Tate may be the biggest douchebag on the internet, but without them I would have missed out on many of my favourite bands. I think I’m looked at on sputnik as a bit of a post-rock head, a fan of any album which chooses to wear a holier-than-thou badge and make sure everyone knows about it, and lets face it, I am. But what you might not know is I’m a huge
sucker for pop punk. Pop punk, pop rock, powerpop, pop tarts, Popeye, anything that carries a pop tag. Gimme sugar, baby.
Now, it was through the medium of absolute(pop)punk that I discovered The Graduate. Labelled as the one of the best bands which were still unsigned, I checked them out. It was love at first listen. The raw energy and enthusiasm that gushed throughout their debut EP The Horror was beyond admirable. It was uplifting. What’s more, the songs were ridiculously catchy, though not over-bubblegummed, driven by a singer with a hefty set of lungs and instrumentation that was unashamedly impassioned. When I heard they had been signed and were releasing a full length by the name of Anhedonia
I was pretty pumped to say the least. Unfortunately, while the catchy, memorable songwriting remained intact, the fervent, ferocious passion with which they played had been sucked dry.
Obviously, if you hadn’t heard The Horror this won’t affect you. But for someone who has, the thought that it could have been so much more lingers throughout, thoroughly affecting the listen. It’s the thought that I could be recommending this album to others with so much more enthusiasm, if they only shared that enthusiasm with me. Regrettably, Anhedonia is so far overproduced that it comes close to being lifeless. Don’t me wrong, it’s a good album, it certainly has that charm that all good pop rock records carry. But, for example, when listening to the track ‘Justified’, a song I absolutely adored when it was on The Horror, I can’t help but feel angry that many people are getting short-changed. Corey Warning proved on The Horror that he has a stunning, at times blisteringly powerful voice (at least for pop rock), but when listening to ‘Justified’ on Anhedonia, these vocals are subdued and occasionally even boring. It wouldn’t be far from the truth to say that his voice is the main appeal of the band, so why they’ve chosen to drag it through a field of greyscale is beyond me.
The instrumentation too is painfully neutered. I mean, it’s great, the guitars are surging and vigorous, the drums are propulsive and compelling, and Matt Kennedy gives us some great keyboard work. If you listen to the anthemic ‘I Survived’ you’ll probably think I’m crazy, there’s plenty of power in there. The vocals are catchy aswell as impressionable, and the track charges through all the trademarks of pop rock. But after showing so much promise on their EP, I just feel it could have been so much more, and quite frankly, I’m disappointed. Besides this, their songs all sound too alike, they rarely venture out of their standard formula. The Graduate are a talented band, no doubt. And this is a good album. But for someone who saw what they were capable of, it’s a shame to see them aim so low. Maybe next time they’ll actually remember to bring the ruckus, and prove to the world that The Graduate is a force to be reckoned with.