Review Summary: Grow up, go on.
With Listen & Forgive, Transit managed to move away from their previously straight pop-punk sound into something a little different, something with more personality. It was a summer record. Not one for bright days, but for sunset evenings. It was hopeful, yet nostalgic and regretful at the same time. It was a perfect example of how to diversify and grow as a band, yet not abandon your roots. It was, in short, a fantastic record. So it's with great anticipation that Transit have released their third full-length, Young New England.
Out of the gates, the first track and single, Nothing Lasts Forever, is impressive. Cheesy intro aside, the guitar playing is reminiscent of The Gaslight Anthem at their most infectious, and is one of the most summery tunes the band have penned.
The experimentation shown is hit-and-miss, but there are some tracks that really pull it off. Lake Q's The-Dangerous-Summer-meets-Jimmy-Eat-World-like vibe is a great way to close the album. The title track has a great singalong, campfire feel to it, and it really paints a picture of the bands hometown that will be relatable to anyone over the angsty hometown hatred of their teenage years. Thanks For Nothing, meanwhile, would have fit in on Listen & Forgive easily, and features a standout moment as the music fades while Boynton quietly sings "You left a note right where you left me, 'Thanks for nothing.' "
Sadly, while the majority of the songs aren't bad, they just lack anything to make them as memorable as those from previous releases. It's a great shame, as Transit are clearly still a talented band. Even in the weaker songs, they still know how to write a catchy chorus, and the instrumentalists know how to deal with the more sombre moments, as singer Boynton rattles off the more introspective and regretful lyrics.
Overall the album simply feels a little rushed. Summer, Me takes lyrical elements from songs they have already put out on Listen & Forgive, meanwhile Hazy is a song that has sleep-inducing verses, and Boynton's vocals simply aren't good enough to support such a minimalist approach. This is in no way helped by the production. Despite being produced by the same person who did The Gaslight Anthem's Handwritten, the production is shaky at best. The vocals are affected most of all while the lead guitar on Nothing Lasts Forever, for example, is an album highlight, yet the production almost ruins that too.
Despite this, with better production, and more time spent on song writing itself, Transit could easily produce the record this was clearly meant to be. Perhaps Young New England isn't entirely a success, but it's a step in a more unique, laid-back, direction for a great band.