Review Summary: Pop punk which tries to break the mould and add frilly edges and almost manages to get it right.
Free to download at www.FlyByNight.bandcamp.com
This free mini-album starts out sounding a bit like The Wanted, but fortunately, my fears proved false. Fly By Night’s sound is cookie-cutter British-made US-style pop punk, with synthesisers giving an anthemic, larger than life sound reminiscent of 80s pop at times. To their credit, the vocals sound convincingly American. “Don’t Blame Us When You’re Famous” could be the next big hit song by any pop punk band out there – take your pick. It is easy to forget that sounding like the spawn of McFly/Blink-182 is quite an accomplishment even if it sounds so easy on record.
Follow-up track “The Night is Darkest Just Before the Dawn” is a bit bland, with the band clumsily attempting to sound a bit edgy in that unconvincing Sum 41 way. Things finally get interesting on “For All It Was Worth”, track three. There’s something a bit Kings of Leon about the arrangement and the guitars, and it really works – the heavier mood of KOL complimenting vocals’ emotive whine nicely. Ordinarily, the framework of pop punk is too over the top to be believable, but this comes together nicely, and it just sounds massive. This kind of song could turn a little gig into an arena if executed correctly.
“The Critics” is less inspired – lazy but listenable pop music filler. Fortunately, the real closer is a “bonus track”. Calling a track on the standard edition of the EP a “bonus track” makes it sound like a sub-standard out-take, but actually “The Hollies” is just refreshingly different – an acoustic duet. It feels more personal, more distinctive. It’s the least complete, refined sounding song here, but shows a glimmer of something a bit special, like “For All It Was Worth”.
One final thing to note is the drums sound a bit odd. They sound distant from the rest of the band, and they don’t really sound like drums – it’s more like a pair of spoons on a plastic lunchbox. That’s more down to the production than anything else; the drumming’s actually the most technically impressive thing here, a real treat. One has to wonder if it was buried to stop it overshadowing the songs themselves.
Varying pop punk’s sound is difficult, and two songs here manage that – one competently, one excellently. That and a belter of an opener make for a good listen – but the other two tracks are total throwaways but should make a pop punk fan smile.
If you like pop punk, it’s an excellent effort. For casuals fans, only expect tracks one and three to draw your attention in the way the genre’s best names like Bowling For Soup and Zebrahead might have managed to in the past.