Review Summary: A Loss for Words, while not displaying any truly ground-breaking material, are not your run-of-the-mill pop punk band.
Massachusetts pop punkers, A Loss for Words, come out swinging with their first full length LP titled The Kids Can’t Lose
which is a much more interesting listen than one might assume. The band strays from typical, upbeat and fast-paced vocals about juvenile problems (girls) that are present in most pop punk, but they still manage to include all of the necessary elements to keep any fan of the genre engaged.
The first stand-out factor that AL4W has going for them is their well-above-average vocalist, Matt Arsenault. The heart in his voice is undeniable, and he crafts some amazingly catchy vocal melodies often backed with harmonies on behalf of bassist Mike Adams as well as occasional gang chants. AL4W, unlike most pop punk, utilizes minor tonalities frequently in their vocals as well as instrumentation, which has at times caused the band to be labeled as “post-hardcore”. Guitarists on the album Marc Dangora and Nevada Smith, for the most part, rely on power chords and generally uninteresting lead lines, but the style works for the music, and there are times when guitar is given the spotlight (e.g. the solo in The Promises You Keep (Burn This Bridge)
. The album is well produced, with good balance on the bass to give the band a full sound, and the drumming by Jack McHugh is par for the course, yet delivers everything you would expect on a pop punk record.
The first track, Stamp of Approval
, opens up with powerful gang-style vocals that warn “Don’t let the truth misguide you, you’ll never know our true intentions.” The track then continues on and contains one of the better choruses on the record as well as a bridge with yelled vocals (that I wouldn’t quite consider to be screaming, but are effective nonetheless). Lyrically, the album doesn’t necessarily stand out amongst its peers, but the vocals never fail to be catchy and still somewhat inspirational, as they should be in the genre.
The main issue I have with the album is that so many of the songs seem to blend together, and while each has its moments, they are not strong enough to make each and every track stand out. After the first track of the album, songs two through four were all very average, including the single Hold Your Breath
which is a bit slower and more chorus driven, but bland nonetheless.
Certain points on the album, however, exhibit the true potential of AL4W, where their songwriting seems as focused as ever, such as in Wasted Youth
which adds a slide guitar throughout the infectiously catchy chorus that is without a doubt my favorite moment on the album. Other stand out tracks include Mount St. Joseph
which is an outstandingly emotional acoustic track, and also the lyrical pinnacle of the album with heartfelt lines such as “It was so damn hard to watch, as heaven and hell held you down like anchors, and your demons finally lulled you back to sleep.” Heavy Lies the Crown
is another strong point on the album, again featuring a fun chorus in which Arsenault asks “Are we naïve enough to think that we can change the world?”
The album seems a bit longer than it has to be, consisting of twelve songs being three to four minutes each, and if AL4W could have parted with a few filler tracks, it would overall be a bit more solid. Despite this, the album has everything you would expect in a pop punk album, and sometimes much more; certain tracks will remind you, “this band has potential”, and others will leave you longing for more, but I would definitely recommend this as an album that fans of the genre should listen to at least once.
Recommended Tracks: Stamp of Approval, Mount St. Joseph, Heavy Lies the Crown, Wasted Youth