Transit – Young New England
Record Label: Rise Records
Release Date: April 2nd 2013
Music fans are a very hard fanbase to please, especially when it comes to their favorite bands. If a band released a great record that fans and critics absolutely adore, the band ultimately gets put on a higher pedestal, and fans’ expectations go up with every single record that the band releases, so when an album by a band that people adore is disappointing, it can be a very interesting experience to see fans’ reactions. That’s exactly how I feel about MA pop-punk outfit Transit’s new album, Young New England. A couple weeks ago, I wrote a review on the new record What You Don’t See by The Story So Far. In the review, I explain how last spring, I finally got much more into pop-punk, with TSSF and Transit being the two “biggest” bands I got into, as well as being the ones I adored most. Well, both bands have finally released new records, The Story So Far’s What You Don’t See, and Transit’s follow-up to 2011’s Listen and Forgive, Young New England. The difference is, What You Don’t See was very well received by fans, because it didn’t do too much differently than the band’s debut record Under Soil and Dirt did. Young New England, on the other hand, takes a lot of risks, which is ultimately alienating their core fanbase.
2011’s Listen and Forgive has become one of my all time favorite albums, to be honest. It combines pop-punk and indie-rock with such ease and grace that it’s almost a classic record in its own right. I mentioned in the beginning of the review that fans do tend to place their favorite bands on pedestals and have very high expectations when a band does so well, but is that too much? Well, yes, and no. Transit is very talented, and it’s clear on Listen and Forgive, but music fans have a tendency to expect way too much from their favorite bands and artists. Transit is one of the shining stars of the modern wave of pop-punk bands, so it pains me to say that Young New England is a rather disappointing album; ultimately, it feels as though the band kind of took a step back. Now I understand that this is a record that the band itself wanted to make, and I absolutely love that, because they believe in this record with their whole hearts. While this record is a bit of a disappointment, it’s not an awful album, either way. The best way I would describe this record is the band decided to take advantage of every pop hook and catchy choruses on Listen and Forgive and transferred them to Young New England. I love catchy choruses and pop hooks, so this is not a disappointing record because it’s “not pop-punk.” It’s disappointing because this record had so much potential to it. It’s catchy, yes, but it doesn’t have what made Listen and Forgive so great. I can’t put my finger on it, but Listen and Forgive is an album that’s fantastic in every single way. Young New England is a very enjoyable album, and while the sincerity and honesty thrive within vocalist Joe Boynton’s lyrics, there’s just something about them, along with his vocals in general that just seem… Off. In fact, I’d describe the whole entire record this way. I like what they were going for, you know, the whole nostalgia, growing up and getting old, being young in New England vibe, and that’s what the lyrics mainly talk about, but I wouldn’t say they’re better than anything on Listen and Forgive. There are a few tracks that really stand out, but there’s still just something very off about this album. To say it’s truly awful is a stretch, however. It’s a very catchy and breezy pop-rock, indie, and pop-punk record. With that being said, let’s take a trip to New England, and dive into this record, shall we?
The record begins with “Nothing Lasts Forever,” and I’m pretty sure that was the first song released from the record, along with a music video. I remember watching that music video when it was released, and it was rather different, but I enjoyed it. The band is has morphed from a pop-punk band with really nothing to offer to an indie Midwestern emo outfit with a lot of experimentation and growth under their belts. This song really kicks the record off immediately with throwing the main theme of the record into the listener’s ears. The main theme of the album shows up in almost every song, but it’s got a couple different ones. The lyrics mainly talk about growing up and the reality of time slowly running out for all of us. That’s the negative theme, but the positive theme does show up in a few tracks where they kind of reflect on the good moments and memories of one’s life. There are a few optimistic places, but this record is more focused on the realization that we all grow up sometime. The opening track definitely shows that. There’s also a cool little guitar solo in the bridge from Torre Cioffi and Tim Landers. Landers is known for being apart of pop-punk side project Misser, which has a new EP being released later this year. I can’t wait for that, but I digress.
Because this record is 13 songs, there are a few tracks that just don’t do anything for me at all. They’re either forgettable, or just don’t do anything. A few tracks aren’t very memorable to me, including second track “Second to Right.” It’s catchy, but there are other tracks on the record that really outshine it. Third track “Young New England,” which is the title track, is one of these tracks that does outshine it. Boynton’s vocals are rather odd within the refrain here, because they’re more of like a hushed chant rather than singing, but I like them. It’s a memorable moment, whether you like them or not. This song definitely pays homage to the band’s hometown, and that leads me to something else that really interesting me about the record – there are a lot of allusions and references to places and things within the band’s hometown. Some bands do this, like The Wonder Years and Fireworks talk about places and landmarks, but their lyrics don’t make it seem like I’m a tourist just visiting. There are a lot of places that the band talk about on this record that can make it rather confusing for someone who doesn’t live in the area, like myself. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if you aren’t from the area, it may be rather confusing. However, I don’t think Transit really care about pandering to tourists, but the rather the townies. By doing so, it may halt them from getting an even wider fanbase across the US or world because they’re limiting themselves to just their hometown. It’s not a huge problem, but it can get dull because the references are in just about every song, so 13 tracks makes it seem a bit forced by the very end. It’s almost like they don’t want us to forget where they’re from. Regardless, it must be cool for people who do live in Boston to understand the references.
Following the title track, “Sleep” is a rather forgettable track, except for one thing – guitarist Tim Landers’ vocals make an appearance. He provided most of the backup vocals for Listen and Forgive and he was awesome. He doesn’t appear on this album very much, though. It’s worth noting he does appear on this track for a brief time, and even on the next track “So Long, So Long.” This is one of my favorite tracks, because it shows off Transit’s “new” Midwestern emo/indie sound. It’s a very catchy song with a very strong chorus and everything great about Transit shows up in this track. The next three songs on the record are actually three of my favorites – “Weathered Souls,” “Hang It Up,” “Don’t Go, Don’t Stray.” They keep the record moving forward, and being that it’s the middle of the record, things can get rather dull. Ninth track “Thanks for Nothing” is a really interesting track, because it kind of just calls out people in Boynton’s life who weren’t there for him, and he kind of makes a snide remark by saying “thanks for nothing” to someone or a group of people. “Summer, ME” is totally the opposite, and this is one of the main tracks that I talked about being an optimistic track, but it does also talk about growing older. It does so in a more optimistic way, however. Next track “Hazy” is a track that’s a bit slower, and this is another one of my favorite tracks.
Finally, the last two tracks “Bright Lights, Dark Shadows,” and “Lake Q” are a couple of interesting songs. The former really doesn’t do a lot for me, but the last track is a really cool one. The latter song is another that mentions places and landmarks in Boston, but this track is a very nice closing track. It’s also the longest song on the record at about four and a half minutes. It ends the record on a very nostalgic and breezy note. At the end of the day, this record may be a disappointment to fans, but it’s the record that Transit themselves wanted to make, so isn’t that the most important thing? This record is not as bad as people are making it out to be. It’s almost like that Transit are stuck in a mid-career crisis, because they’re trying to reinvent themselves yet again but with mixed results. At times this sound is really cool, and really fits them, but at other times, it just comes across as awkward and strange. If the title of Transit’s last record Listen and Forgive was any indicator for what was to come from them, we should do what that record says. Listen to it, and forgive them for it. We know what the band capable of, and while this may be a slight bump in their career path, we know they’re going to bounce back, stronger than before.