Review Summary: We Are The Union create a fun, catchy ska/pop-punk debut album. Fans of Less Than Jake and Set Your Goals can agree on this release.
We Are The Union are a relatively new band from Ann Arbor, Michigan, with this being their debut album of 2007. We Are The Union are very nice guys who work hard and keep up the DIY mindset. I’ve seen them live once, and they had tons of energy and were a lot of fun. They bring in a plethora of influences, ranging from ska acts such as Less Than Jake and Slapstick, and melodic hardcore/pop-punk bands, such as Lifetime and Gorilla Biscuits, and newer acts such as New Found Glory and Set Your Goals. The energetic mix of these two genres creates a fun, fast-paced sound, which is part of the appeal of We Are The Union.
The opening track, MTV Is Over, If You Want It, starts with a short guitar intro, and then the horns kick in, creating a flurry of punk guitars and catchy horns. This is a great example of We Are The Union’s general sound. The drums pound out fast-paced beats, the guitar plays both ska and punk riffs, the often hidden bass plays bouncy basslines that compliment the guitar parts. The vocals are somewhat high, but won’t bother those who aren’t too picky. Most songs on the album feature the horns, and a catchy chorus. The first five tracks or so use a similar formula; however, each one has a distinct, catchy chorus. The lyrics cover somewhat lighter topics, which could be a turn-off for those who enjoy deeper lyrical content. The lyrics aren’t trivial to excess, though. A lot of the songs speak of individuality, outspokenness, emotions, broken relationships, the human condition, selling out, and life in general.
The sixth track, War On Everything, takes the tempo down a bit, as vocalist Reed Wolcott preaches a political message of left-wing equality and freedom. This is easily the most political track on the album. The next track, We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat, brings back more fast-paced ska/pop-punk/melodic hardcore from earlier in the album. After this, Occupational Hazard, the only track on the album under a minute, bursts in as a breakneck melodic hardcore song. This song isn’t a highlight track, but shows good variance in the album. After another signature We Are The Union song, the album slows down a bit, with the catchy, horn-driven track, These Colors Flee The Scene. This song really stresses individuality, and how messed-up society is. A breakdown near the end of the song precedes an uptempo melodic punk bit to finish of the song. This is definitely a highlight track. The album finishes with Outcore, the longest song, nearly reaching four and a half minutes. The song is a great way to fade out the album, ending on a pretty good note.
If you enjoy ska, pop-punk, or melodic hardcore, I suggest that you give this album a listen. The horns may not appeal to everyone, but the music is extremely catchy. Any fan of third-wave ska, pop-punk in the vein of New Found Glory, or even melodic hardcore like Strung Out or Lifetime will most likely enjoy this album. The songs aren’t perfect, and can be a bit repetitive. However, this is a fun, energetic listen that will satisfy a wide variety of listeners. The album is quite overlooked, but deserves more recognition. As the band states throughout the album, though, they don’t care about how famous they are.