Archimedes, Watch Out! – I’m not quite sure why they named themselves after an Ancient Greek mathematician, but I am sure that this is a band worth taking notice of. For fans of Fall Out Boy and New Found Glory, this might be a band for you. Actually, scrap that. It’s not fair to build a band up for a fall, so don’t listen to AWO! expecting FOB take 2, but if that kind of pop-punk is your thing, you really should have a listen to these guys.
AWO! are a six-piece band from Texas who list bands like The Wonder Years and Motion City Soundtrack amongst other inspirations. Following on from their 2010 EP “A Face for Radio”, the band released their debut album this August called “In Context”.
I can’t conclusively say whether or not What About Smee? is meant to refer to Captain Hook’s right-hand man, but I sure hope it is! Peter Pan references aside, What About Smee provides a solid and apt opening to the album. The lead guitar plays away joyfully and the vocals seem promising too. Dalton Claybrook (vocalist) manages to show off his voice with frequent changes in pitch and strength, but the song ends rather abruptly. It conjures memories of the Sopranos season finale where it cuts to black in mid sent…
Inspired By True Events, sadly for me, is a low point of the album. Like in the song before, AWO! try to combine the catchy poppy choruses with enough guitar and fast drums to put the ‘punk’ in pop-punk, but unlike the album opener this seems a little confused. Half way through the song a female vocalist makes an appearance and while this usually makes a nice change, the way she and Dalton sing across each other hits me like nails on a chalkboard.
Bad Tattoos and Breakable Things, songs three and four, quickly make up for this hiccup. Bringing some more punk to the pop with the fast kick-drums, a strong bass line and a synth riff opening, Breakable Things which held promises of a heavier song than AWO! ultimately delivered. This is quite nicely juxtaposed against their ability to stay equally pop-rockish with synth mixed choruses filling Bad Tattoos. Songs five, six and seven carry on in the same fashion, bringing fun, punchy songs to sing-along to. The guitars continue to chirp away happily. It sums up a lot of what the album achieves: that happy sound in the background that can’t help but get lodged in your head and make you smile.
Stranded stands out as a little more sombre than what came previously, but once the vocals come in and join the guitar it doesn’t lead into anything that you haven’t heard before. By itself it is a good song, no doubt about that, the vocals are as good as ever and the guitar is just as infectious as in Bad Tattoos (probably becoming my highlight of the album), but that’s part of the problem – it’s just no different.
Don’t Turn Back Now does bring something new to the table, a nice little acoustic number, but at forty-four seconds it is only one verse long and serves as nothing more than an interlude before songs eleven and twelve. A refreshing change, even if it was only short-lived.
The lyrics throughout may be a little generic for pop-punk, with no real ingenuity in the songs but a lot of potential, especially for a debut album. However the lack of diversity in the album sees the last few songs merge into one. Each song by itself (maybe with the exception of Inspired by True Events) is a song well worth listening to and maybe in an age were less and less people buy full albums, that’s all you can ask for.
4 out of 5 high fives!