Review Summary: A Loss For Words drop a competent release but a forgettable one compared to the previous outing.
A Loss For Words is a pop punk band from Massachusetts signed to Rise Records that came into the scene with their first album "The Kids Can't Lose" in 2009. I wasn't introduced to the band until a couple of years later with their sophomore release "No Sanctuary", their first release with Rise Records. I enjoyed "No Sanctuary" quite a bit. It definitely got better after repeated listens and contained some really great hooks. They even ventured more into Alt. Rock territory and a little bit of hardcore to add some variety. Sadly 2013 came around with "Before It Caves". I had high hopes for this album after "No Sanctuary" but ended up underwhelmed. Overall there isn't a bad song on the record but most songs lack energy or catchy hooks. The whole album sticks with the pop punk sound with an extra emphasis on the pop side of things, enhanced by the clean production. A few shiny gems stick out, but not enough to make this more than "good".
The album kicks off on a pretty strong note with "Distance", one of the better tracks. The lead guitars are particularly noticeable, the hook is actually pretty decent, and a female clean vocalist pops in to add variety. "Distance" is still a step down compared to older songs but proves to stand out compared to the rest of the album. Soupy from "The Wonder Years" lends his voice to the second song, "Conquest of Mistakes", saving the otherwise average track. After that things go downhill with occasional leaps upward. "20 Block" is the next highlight with the same good points as "Distance". There's a homage to their first album with the track "The Kids Can't Lose" and an acoustic song pops in, "Brace Yourself", to sadly average effect. Really that's about it. The rest of the album is composed of decent pop punk recordings that fail to really stick.
Instrumentally the band is perfectly fine and works just as well as the last record. The drums do what pop punk drummers always do, the bass fills out the sound with out being too low in the mix, and the guitar bashes chords and adds some decent leads here and there. All in all they are doing what they need to, creating a foundation for the vocalist to craft catchy hooks. The problem is that vocalist Matty Arsenault has failed to some degree. His vocals were always a stand out for the band, he had a good range and was less strained in his voice compared to their peers. His lyrics are nothing out of the ordinary and his hooks aren't all that catchy anymore. Except for the highlights I mentioned, his choruses slide right out of the mind which is simply a tragedy for someone like me that expected more.
"Before It Caves" may come off better for someone who is new to the band, but for returning fans the result is simply weak. The best I can do for this album is rate it at "Good" for the highlight tracks and lack of anything worse than average. Here's to hoping they can do better next time around.