Review Summary: By embracing the genre's roots, Seaway has crafted one of the finest pop punk albums of 2015, and easily the band's best work to date.
Abandoning the light-hearted roots in favour a more mature sound seems to be a trend among modern pop punk bands, with many taking inspiration in recent releases from emo and/or hardcore (The Story So Far, The Wonder Years and so on). While many artists benefit from developing their sound in this way, Seaway’s growth on Colour Blind
does not come from making reference to supposedly darker or more “mature” genres. Instead, they focus on the aspects of pop punk that defined the genre in its prime, and in doing so have crafted one of the best records in the genre so far this year.
The slow beginning of opening track Slam
not only contradicts what the song title promises, but is deceptively bland in tone in comparison with the bulk of the album. After the band makes a baffling two second entry with building snares that snap back to guitar and voice, the true nature of this record reveals itself: Ryan Locke’s gravelly voice shouting “Everything is cool, man” followed by the band’s explosively bouncy entry, dual vocals and all. This is Seaway at their best – goofy self-aware lyrics, fun energetic riffs and dual vocals that harmonise and alternate in a way that just oozes happiness. From this moment through the next four tracks, Seaway gains a simply stunning momentum of high quality, high energy and at times euphoric songs, and for the most part maintains this standard across the album.
Compositionally, most of the songs on this record run with this light-hearted approach, with tracks like Best Mistake
augmenting simple major key riffs and melodies with ample rhythmic variation and vocal melodies that take full advantage of their dual vocalist situation. They seem to recognise the strength of simple melodies when supported by creative variation and performances so energetic you can’t help but smile. A great example of this is the chorus of Still Weird
, where the combination of the harmonised and alternated vocals with lively noodling guitars underneath, finishing with a cheeky accidental chord makes for perhaps the greatest chorus in pop punk this year. One of the reasons this album is so enjoyable is its unashamed embrace of the pop aspects of pop punk. For instance, Big Deal
and Best Mistake
sound like they could quite easily earn mainstream radio play, with bouncy sing-along choruses that make no compromise in the writing department to achieve their pop appeal.
The only flat moments on this record are the slower, stripped-down sections which see the band grind to a halt in their sudden decision to be solemn. For instance, moving from the breathtaking Still Weird
into the bog-standard guitar-and-vocal intro of Stubborn Love
is disappointing not just because of the comparatively boring writing and performance, but because it stops the incredible momentum built up across the first five tracks. Similar passages are present on opening and closing tracks Slam
respectively, which is disappointing for the simple reason that these moments do no justice to the stunning quality of the rest of this album.
On Colour Blind
, Seaway have easily trumped 2013’s Hoser
without any significant overhaul to their sound, and in doing so make one of the most catchy and enjoyable pop punk albums of the year so far. Only time can tell if they earn the fame and respect they deserve, but anyone who enjoys pop punk should do themselves a huge favour and listen to Colour Blind
Recommended songs: Best Mistake, Still Weird, Freak, Big Deal.