Carpenter

Lifelines

Written by: TL on 13/11/2016 12:13:02

Normally, if you make a record that wins you mostly local fame and then wait six years before releasing a second one, people who know the music industry might wonder why you even bother. That said, having Vancouver-based 'rock band that people call punk' come back with a surprise follow-up to 2010's excellent but underappreciated singalong record "Sea To Sky", is one of those pleasant surprises that you welcome, even if it seems unclear whether the band has any ambition with it other than to put it out and play a handful of shows again for the hell of it.

The band's style most closely resembles the nostalgic, Americana-laced heartland rock/punk of The Gaslight Anthem or The Menzingers (nevermind that Carpenter are Canadian). There is perhaps a slightly more colourful tone to the melodies, bringing to mind Piebald or Restorations, while frontman Daniel Sioui sounds like a Jimmy Stadt ( Polar Bear Club) or Dave Hause (The Loved Ones, etc.), with a good bit of gravelly texture in the rim of his otherwise tuneful and well-articulated singing.

The new album, "Lifelines", is a small record, though, clocking in at only 27 minutes across eight tracks, and it's small in more senses than that. The production is actually quite good, as though it offers no revolutionary touches, it has the band's core instruments, as well as the occasional hint of piano, mixed tightly and with balance. What's more telling is that the band hasn't gone any extra miles to carefully stage or elaborate their songwriting talents to a more consistently striking point, which is a shame, because when they strike a right chord you immediately feel like they should be headed places sooner than seems the case right now.

Take opener "Songs On The Stereo". It's one of those instantly captivating tracks, seizing you from first beat of the drum and atmospheric strum of guitar. "I went doooown, on a one way ticket" sings Sioui with Springsteen-like pathos, and you know already then that this is a "Screams In Caves" (Polar Bear Club) -type of song, the kind which you'll remember forever, no matter if the band breaks up and disappears tomorrow. A similar quality is found further down at track five, "Sad Songs", which opens like a ballad, only to quickly head down into a nice and choppy verse, then circling back to its instantly memorable refrain. "I'll see you at the liqour store, we'll grab a bottle of regret, and forget everything we know."

The album as a whole thrives on the same nostalgic, melodious rock/punk vibe, yet the other songs don't quite shape up into similarly remarkable highlights, which gets you thinking that Carpenter are perhaps sticking to what they know a bit too tightly, and resting a bit too comfortably in the role as a locally famous band, who plays a fairly true-to-tradition kind of music, nothing less, nothing more. The irresistible choruses aren't quite as frequent as on "Sea To Sky", and they haven't left to be replaced by a noticeable elaboration of what the band already did well last time. This makes the record overall feel like the product of a group that has the talent to be a potential next punk scene sensation, but who haven't quite invested the necessary ambition or resources in their album.

7

Download: Songs On The Stereo, Sad Songs,
For The Fans Of: The Gaslight Anthem, The Menzingers, Piebald, Polar Bear Club
Listen: facebook.com/carpenterpunk

Release date 16.09.2016
Red Bull Records

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