Review Summary: Picky with your pop-punk?
Brace yourself, because We Better Get Goin' If We're Gonna
is your first Christmas present of the year. Waiting to be unwrapped, it has some fantastically pretty packaging. Stay Ahead of the Weather may be veterans of the Chicago DIY scene, but da
mn they know how to entice. Besides the alluring art, forewarnings of excellence grace the band’s first output like ribbons. Every master of gift-receiving will tell you the most decisive factor in pre-determining a present’s worth-- who’s the giver? In this case, We Better Get Goin' If We're Gonna
reaches ears a la No Sleep Records, one of the year’s foremost labels, home to La Dispute, The Felix Culpa, Balance and Composure, among others. Not quite sold yet? Let’s begin the unwrapping process, because Stay Ahead’s rookie EP is a celebratory, energetic extravaganza, batteries included.
Instead of lacing their tunes with breakdowns or gimmicks that seem to be all the rage in pop-punk these days, Stay Ahead’s approach is straight-to-the-gut. Punches are not pulled as hectic guitars lines and a frenzy of melodious choruses inhabit We Better Get Goin' If We're Gonna
. It’s endearing, the band’s ability to revert back to pop-punk’s no-frills origins with enough grace to keep the act entirely fresh. Buzzy guitars and driving percussion are prominent-- think Park minus the whine. Raw and cutting, Stay Ahead’s musicianship is focused and invigorating, never falling victim to tedium. The influence and similarities of Stay Ahead’s tourmates Snowing, My Heart to Joy, and Street Smart Cyclist is evident throughout, especially in the first two tracks, as they astound with sheer energy. Fresh and lively, there’s nary a second of downtime on the five tracks; and while it works spectacularly in this instance, it’s the type of monotony that’s worrisome when translating to a full album.
Nevertheless, take Stay Ahead of the Weather for the band it is at this moment, and you’re bound to unwrap a present worth holding on to. There’s a lovable grit to We Better Get Goin' If We're Gonna
throughout, evidencing the low-budget circumstances of the EP’s recording. “No Sleep Till Humboldt” displays a less bold sound from the band, but gang vocals flow in seamlessly towards the back half. It’s a small gesture, but tiny enhancements like this are what make all the difference in a genre ridden with uniformity, let me know that the EP at hand is special. The most protruding strength is the Stay Ahead of the Weather’s ability to develop such an energetic, vibrant sound while remaining focused, a skill-set taken for granted far too often. Only time will tell if Stay Ahead of the Weather have given us the sort of present that gets old by the time the Christmas lights go away ‘til next winter, but an ephemeral five impressive tracks prove We Better Get Goin' If We're Gonna
is a keeper for the moment.