Review Summary: A disappointing teaser, or simply a tease from this talented pop-punk outfit?
Pop-punk is in an interesting state of flux at present, seemingly just as likely to burgeon as it is to become obsolete. This has much to do with the two distinct styles of music currently making up the genre's loose definition. On one hand there are the slick poppy acts, and on the other the heavier punk-leaning throwbacks. It's actually a surprise that more bands do not attempt to capitalize on an expanded fan-base by splitting the difference... A near-perfect description of what New Jersey outfit I Call Fives have targeted on their two EPs to date, and continue to do on third EP 'Someone That's Not You'.
Those listeners looking for a benchmark to the quintet's sound could not do much better than the opening title track here. Mild backing screams and gang vocals float in and out to best exemplify the aforementioned balance, as grittiness still prevails despite the relatively slick production. A strong musical back-bone is especially evident in the propulsive drumming, which is once more right up there with their punk-rock peers. Consolidating its status as this EPs highlight is its catchy chorus, which only just falls short of their best and adds a satisfying sing-along element. Not too dissimilar is up-tempo successor 'Backup Plan', another track which lyrically centers around the clichÃ©d theme of relationship problems. Not quite as hooky as the opener, it is still a solid tune, even if it is far from looking to reinvent the wheel.
Yielding mixed results, the final two tracks of this release attempt to provide diversity to an EP which probably does not require it. The now almost customary acoustic pop-punk piece appears in the form of 'Lakeview', a track which initially does not inspire, yet is a deceptive ear-worm due to its recitable refrain. Finally, 'Someone That's Not You' closes with 'How's It Gonna Be', a Third Eye Blind Cover that shows off a nice melodic guitar lead, but exposes the weaknesses of lead vocalist Jeff Todd. Laconically over-enunciating to the song's detriment, Todd's semi-nasally whine really stands out here, while trying to find that always difficult to locate balance of paying homage to the original song and making it the band's own. Unfortunately, I Call Fives end up doing neither.
Considering the satisfying nature of the quintet's previous two EPs, 'Someone That's Not You' regrettably comes off as a little disappointing. Not as consistent as their debut 'First Things First', nor reaching the heights of follow-up 'Bad Advice', the objective of this scant twelve minute release feels a little confused. Is it meant to be a stand-alone EP, a stop-gap compilation, or simply a teaser for the band's belated debut full-length release come the northern hemisphere summer? In fact, the jury may still be out here until that LP is released, since this solid - if unspectacular - four track effort does raise some concerns on whether I Call Fives will be able to successfully step up to the big leagues. Hopefully, this is more of a tease than a teaser, and this talented outfit can take advantage of a potential niche sound that will further - not fail - the pop-punk genre
Recommended Tracks: Someone That's Not You & Backup Plan.