Review Summary: Unabashed pop-punk glory; We Are the In Crowd skate the (somewhat) sophomore slump and release their strongest album yet.
We are the In Crowd (WATIC) fall outside of my usual musical tastes; normally I am writing about thrash metal or obscure 80s hair bands. A few years ago I was going through a bad breakup; late at night with my headphones on I was staring at the wall listening to someone’s horrendous “break up mix” on YouTube. Suddenly this amazing acoustic piece started and I was blown away at how connected to my actual emotions the lyrics of the song were. That song was ‘Never Be What You Want’ and I was hooked. Debuting in 2009 they released a few individual tracks before their debut EP hit the market. Many critics were overly eager to lump them in with the Paramore clones (attractive female single with a good voice and pop-punk leanings, it is understandable). With Weird Kids WATIC excel where others falter, stepping out of the shadow of other bands in the genre and claiming a space of their own.
The most interesting thing the band brings (and has always brought) to the table is the vocal interplay between Tay Jardine and Jordan Eckes. Jardine’s is effervescent with just enough grit to make it palpable and layered with an old soul (which really helps on the slower songs). In juxtaposition Eckes straddles the typical punk/pop border with a dancer’s grace. The tongue in cheek lyrics and their dual harmonies make this album and all of their others a fun listen. Eckes also helps with the bands guitar duties, though that is not to discount Cameron Hurley (guitar) and Mike Ferri (bass). Interesting vocals would matter little without an excellent rhythm section to accompany them. The real lynchpin though is Rob Chianelli on the drums, whose work here walks well above the good line. Solid in his basic work, the fills and extras presented here keep the rhythm section from being more than just a set piece for Jardine.
WATIC are certainly improving in their song writing abilities. The hooks present here are the strongest that they have developed yet and should translate amazingly to a live setting. Lead single ‘The Best Thing (That Never Happened) is tailor made for singing along and is definitely an ear worm of the nth degree. This time out the songs find the band exploring some deeper topics than relationships (though songs of that nature are certainly still there) and stepping into more emotional territory. Don’t You Worry is a song about family and the simplistic, yet gorgeous Windows In Heaven is a bittersweet ballad that give Jardine a chance to flex her vocal skills and play the listeners heartstrings like a virtuoso.
There is some disjointedness in the flow of the album, which can hinder the listening experience. Even a few days in I have found that certain tracks work better in a different order. The two biggest offenders are ‘Attention’ and Remember (To Forget You). Attention is a decent up-tempo track and would have been a stellar opener. That being said, the only other negative here is the short running time. Some of the songs would have benefitted from less pop music stripping. I understand making things “radio-friendly” but with such a capable and entertaining rhythm section at their disposal, I would have loved to hear more from them. The electronic interjections and sample usage, had it been given over to a few tasteful guitar solos or tasteful jamming from the guys would have been more welcome. Still, fans of the band and genre will be more than pleased that We are the In Crowd has not fallen prey to the typical “bad” 2nd album.