People On Vacation - The Carry_On EP
Record Label: Brando
Release Date: November 24, 2011
People on Vacation is the indie-pop pairing of Jaret Reddick (Bowling For Soup) and Ryan Hamilton (Smile Smile). Often described as an unlikely collaboration, they sound about like you would expect them to; the sum of its parts, an exact centerpoint of the happy pop-punk of BFS and the melancholy indie tunes of Smile Smile. Both Jaret and Ryan have plenty of experience writing catchy pop-rock tunes, so it's not surprising that their debut EP is composed of just that.
As a big fan of Bowling For Soup, I was curious to see what Reddick would come up with in writing a different type of music. Here, he tones down his enthusiastic, ever-joking personality, but not entirely. The subject matter is almost entirely serious, yet he delivers lines such as "all up in my business like my mother on Christmas trying to get me to the promised land / Begging for a pardon like the subject of a warning, like I burped up something & swallowed it again" ("Alone With You"). Hamilton, who writes sober, heartbroken indie songs in Smile Smile, finds a happier medium on Carry_On. His songs, often still about lost love and general discontent, here seem to have a more passive attitude, using tongue-in-cheek humor to approach life's problems.
Vocally, each brings something unique to this band. Jaret, while not as flippant or over the top as he is in BFS, has a certain ever-present cheer or playfulness in his voice. Ryan, on the other hand has a smooth clean voice and sings more softly. To compare him (vocally) to Motion City Soundtrack's Justin Pierre on softer songs would not be that much of a stretch.
The songs on the EP, while all poppy and catchy, have enough variance to keep you from getting bored. The opening track and single "Better Off Dead" uses the most productive resources. It is backed by a keyboard following the chord progression in staccato fashion, as well as a distorting vocal effect on the opening. It has lyrical gems such as "As the Earth defeats me and I lose myself completely, I find myself / And if this is the true me, I think someone should shoot me or else." Carry_On hits the highest points of catchiness on the sing-along "It's Not Love" and my personal favorite "Rainy Day", while "Alone With You" and "She Was The Only One" are up-tempo rockers. The EP closes with the more somber ballad "Where Do We Go", which touches on the heavier topics of life and death.
Though the disc does a great job of keeping your attention, it is not entirely without flaw. The production was done rather cleanly, which means you miss out on some of the the more raw instrumental sounds. I first heard POV at a live acoustic show, and I'd like to hear the more subtle sounds of the guitars on the album. Also, since the runtime of the EP is so short and the songs so catchy, listening on repeat can be tiring.
The Carry_On EP is an infectious handful of pop-rock tunes by two guys that know how to get stuck in your head. Jaret and Ryan have found a musical common ground between their respective genres and delivered a great debut EP. I look forward to hearing much more from them in the near future.