Written by: TL on 30/12/2014 17:33:33

When listening to "Joyride", the fifth full length album from Boston quartet Transit, it's hard not to think that the online reception of their two previous albums has been characterised by overreactions, both when 2011's "Listen & Forgive" was lauded as a particularly amazing "breakthrough", and again when the following "Young New England" from 2013 was marked as a substantial disappointment. Offering twelve tracks of more sunny, laid-back, pop-punk/indie-pop mixture, Transit sounds much the same as always despite losing guitarist/backing vocalist Tim Landers fully to Misser earlier this year, and surrounded by their friendly tones it is a wonder how anyone can get riled up about the group, for better or worse. Likely grown on influences like Saves The Day and Third Eye Blind, Transit deals primarily in mid-tempo, low-intensity pop-tunes that are pop-punk more by affiliation than by their musical energy. Instrumentally, their soundscape is The Shire of the music scene - there's no danger in sight in any direction - so you can just sit back, put your shades on, bop your head and enjoy yourself, just as the title and artwork suggest.

Listening to the lyrics there are of course sorrows and frustrations to be contemplated in the band's world, and you sense that the idea is for singer Joe Boynton to sing these out in a familiar melancholy/poppiness contrast, similarly to how groups from Motion City Soundtrack to Say Anything have done before them. But the band's persistent issue is that this contrast is rarely staged in particularly striking ways, and though the blame is unlikely to belong exclusively with Boynton, his peculiar yet limited range of expression quickly wears out its novelty, after which it hardly does neither lyrics nor melodies any great favours. He raises his voice but still sounds somewhat unaffected, and you wonder if the performances have been rehearsed to the point where the words have lost their emotional impact, or if Transit simply intend to sound less than bothered at most times.

Intentionally or not, the result is an album which floats by enjoyably but forgetably unless you bury your nose in a lyrics booklet to actively look for things you can connect with Transit over. Otherwise, the album does best in the straight-up pop of "Nothing Left To Lose", although the "Happy birthday" opening to each verse line feels somewhat tryhard even while admittedly getting the job done. "Rest To Get Better" works decently as well, while really invoking those references to both Third Eye Blind and Misser, and "Loneliness Burns" comes along like a change of pace by bringing piano into play and offering the kind of chorus you find yourself singing along to absentmindedly even on the first listen.

It's not that "Joyride" isn't catchy then, it is, pretty consistently even - It's more that the songs have very little impact. It's an album there's nothing wrong with, except for the fact that there's nothing particularly great about it either, resulting in songs you hum along to while they're there, but feel little desire to put on tomorrow or next week, at least not if you have something more substantial in your current rotation as well. Going on their eigth year as a band though, it seems like Transit are currently content to gradually explore this mellow expression, and you can't really fault anyone for listening - You just wonder if their fans either don't know the similar, but better alternatives, or if they do and simply like this cosy style of music so much that they still can't get enough.

Download: Nothing Left To Lose, Rest To Get Better, Loneliness Burns,
For The Fans Of: Misser, Elder Brother, Third Eye Blind, Saves The Day

Release date 21.10.2014
Rise Records

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