Review Summary: Punk is changing. Enter Hostage Calm.
If you haven’t heard about Hostage Calm until now, you better get used to hearing the name.
The Connecticut-based quintet is often misattributed the labels of “hardcore” and “punk”, likely because of the underground scene in which they have been involved for so long – touring with the likes of Make Do and Mend
, Cheap Girls
, and Streetlight Manifesto
. Seems like a bit of a stretch, but Hostage Calm have absolutely no problem blurring the genre boundaries that both define and confine our perception of “punk”.
Their self-titled, released in 2010, was met with positive reviews but the band failed to garner a much-deserved reputation. Hostage Calm saw the band skillfully weaving through a vast array of genres including pop, Latin, post-hardcore, and straight-up punk anthems. It was hard to resist the charm and grooviness that infected songs like “Ballots/Stones” and “Wither on the Vine”. Hostage Calm was both a blessing and a curse for the band; not unlike “Post-59-Sound Syndrome”, fans wondered if the band was capable of following up such a musically and artistically bold endeavor.
Please Remain Calm builds on everything the band did right on their self-titled – technical complexity, atypical song structures, big riffs, catchy-as-hell melodies, instrumental experimentation, and all the energy you could want out of a modern punk band. This time, however, the band has really stepped up their game on all fronts. “Woke Up Next to a Body” contains what might be the hugest chorus they’ve ever written. “Impossible!” and “May Love Prevail” are irresistibly cheeky and see the band reaching further and further out of their comfort zone – yet never sound even a tad uncomfortable. “The M Word” is perhaps the band’s biggest departure, a slow ballad built on a beautifully arranged string section that functions as the album’s climax. “Patriot” contains carefully orchestrated vocal harmonies that serve as yet another testament to the band’s incredible musicianship.
Hostage Calm are arguably the boldest songwriters in punk today. If the band didn’t already prove that on their self-titled, Please Remain Calm certainly cements their place at the top. Simply put, Hostage Calm have surpassed expectations and released their strongest album to date. Sure, some of the lyrics are a bit cheesy (see “The M Word”) and Chris’ vocal delivery is at times a bit goofy, but the songwriting across the board is impeccable. Hostage Calm continue to expand their horizons and push the musical envelope. And with The Gaslight Album fading out of our hearts and onto the radio, The Menzingers might just step aside and let Hostage Calm crawl into our hearts in that little spot we all have for “most exciting up-and-coming band” in punk. Please Remain Calm is just one of those albums you have to hear to believe.