Album Review: I Call Fives - 'Someone That's Not You'

10 April 2012 | 6:46 am | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

A short, varied and entertaining ride.

I Call Fives are an interesting case study in the pop punk genre. For the better part of a decade now, the New Jersey five-piece have been stuck in perpetual limbo between the East Coast underground live scene that they came from and the wider recognition that they probably deserve. Those who heard their debut EP ‘First Things First’ upon release were treated to a reiteration of the genre that, whilst bearing an unmistakable resemblance to New Found Glory and The Starting Line, managed to carve its own niche with catchy, well-placed riffs and jaw-dropping vocal melodies. On their newest release ‘Someone That’s Not You’, the band manages to find the middle-ground between the fast-paced energy of their original EP and the safe, commercial accessibility of its follow-up, ‘Bad Advice’. The end result is the most diverse collection of songs in the band’s career, and one that will hopefully turn some heads in the global scene.

Leaving no time wasted, the band kicks things off on the opening title track with a simplistic, off-beat riff and punctuating cymbal crashes before launching into an up-tempo, four-to-the-floor punk rhythm. The guitars on this track are overdriven with a meaty, low-end crunch that helps to shave off some of ‘Bad Advice’s studio sheen, a trend that is continued by the breakneck, circle pit-inducing chorus and shouted, almost screamed backing vocals. The entire song speaks of a band attempting to return to their grittier, punk-enthused roots, whilst maintaining the easy-going catchiness that has always made their music approachable. Unfortunately though, frontman Jeff Todd’s vocal melody isn’t quite on par with the band’s earlier classics like ‘Ready To Go’ and ‘My Last Mistake’, resulting in a track that isn’t quite as memorable as it could’ve been. His penchant for punctuating, high-register notes is still very much on display here though, propelled by a punchy exuberance that helps to paint layers of colour over the traditional genre clichés.

The second half of the EP is devoted to the slower, more subdued side of the band, and gives the release a truncated and disjointed feel from the drastic shift in style. ‘Lakeview’ strips the band down to its bare foundations, setting a mellow tone with tambourine jingles and duelling, quickly-strummed acoustic guitars. Despite being a competent acoustic ballad, the track’s chord progressions and accompanying lead work are not as dynamic or musically interesting as similar offerings from peers like Citizen and Man Overboard. The dullness of the guitars is made up for by a marching, triple-meter drumbeat and the commendable vocal ability of Todd. Here, his melody line is catchy and on point, layered with soaring woah-ohs and harmonised overdubs that add depth and memorability to the song’s chorus. The EP lulls itself into a slow-temp pace, closing out with the Third Eye Blind cover ‘How’s It Gonna Be’. Whilst lacking the driving energy of the opening track, the band’s well-executed foray into pop rock adds diversity to the release, and hints that there will be more stylistic experimentation from I Call Fives in the future.

On their third EP, I Call Fives have married the styles of their previous releases together, creating a pop punk sound that is fast, full of energy and highly accessible. The result is a four-track effort layered with diversity, taking the listener on a short, memorable journey of breakneck punk, slow-burning ballads and even an experimentation with acoustic songwriting. ‘Something That’s Not You’ is I Call Fives at their most adventurous.

1. Someone That's Not You

2. Backup Plan

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3. Lakeview

4. How's It Gonna Be