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Cartel - Cycles Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8.75
Musicianship 8
Lyrics 5
Production 7.5
Creativity 7.5
Lasting Value 6.75
Reviewer Tilt 8.5
Final Verdict: 74%
Member Ratings
Vocals 10
Musicianship 9
Lyrics 8.75
Production 9
Creativity 8.75
Lasting Value 9
Reviewer Tilt 8.38
Average: 90%
Inside AP.net

Cartel - Cycles

Reviewed by: TERRABITHIA (11/10/09)
Cartel - Cycles
Record Label: Wind-Up Records
Release Date: October 20, 2009

I remember seeing Cartel my sophomore year of high school with The Starting Line for the Screaming Is for Babies Tour in 2006. Back then, the only thing people knew about them was that they were a small pop-punk act from Georgia. After the show, I, among many of my other friends, was glued to their debut album Chroma. About six months later, I heard “Honestly” played repeatedly by radio stations, MTV, and fellow high school students. Cartel was making a name for themselves as Chroma had topped most mainstream acts and went down as a top album for fans of the pop-punk scene. Chroma set Cartel’s standards very high, which should have been a great advantage for them. But as they were featured on MTV’s “Band in a Bubble,” fans became hyped for this new, self-titled Cartel album. But when the album debuted in spring 2007, it appeared that it did not live up to the potential many were expecting. Containing two decent singles, “Lose It”, and “The Fortunate”, was not enough for this album to break ground anywhere. The album did not even sell half the copies that Chroma did. And for Cartel, all hell broke loose as they were dropped from their label Epic Records.

Now siding with Wind-Up Records, Cartel released Cycles. Trying to bounce back from a sophomore slump, Cartel starts it up with “Let’s Go.” This song is a reach out for fans to re-join them on their journey in Cycles and the rejoice the song brings is successful. Next, we hear “The Perfect Mistake,” a song that I believe is arguably, the best track on Cycles. It is a typical pop punk song, simple and catchy, but it has so much energy that you cannot afford to skip past it. In fact, there may be no need for skipping songs on this album as we hit the third track “Faster Ride,” an upbeat soft song that features an interesting beginning and verses, along with a harmonizing pre-chorus that is followed by a different, but catchy chorus from Cartel. “Deep South”, which should be their next single, is a song about the band's Southern roots that may as well be the next “Minstrel’s Prayer,” from Chroma. Its heartfelt melodies should easily draw you in as should the rest of Cycles. Cycles somewhat brings us back to the Chroma-like sound and portrays how Cartel has done so much better than their previous release.

Impressed by Cycles, I went to see Cartel perform at Mojoes in Orland Park, Illinois on Oct. 4. Opening for them were The Summer Set and This Providence. Starting their set with “Let’s Go”, I became a sucker for their live performance. Will Pugh, vocalist/guitarist of Cartel has one of the best/unique voices among anyone in the pop punk scene today and until you experience seeing Cartel live, you are missing out. Equally playing songs from Chroma, the self-titled, and Cycles, fans wanted more after Cartel finished their set with “A.” With the band walking off stage, Pugh remained and sang acapella with the crowd singing right behind him. And while Pugh left the stage for good, the fans did not leave the venue. In a matter of seconds, the famous “one more song” chant was being yelled over and over again for two minutes. Cartel gave what their fans wanted, coming back out and playing “The Perfect Mistake”, and closing it up with “Honestly.”

After a sophomore slump, Cartel is back. While Pugh is receiving much credit, let’s lift our hats off to guitarists Joseph Pepper and Nic Hudson who contributed to the power-poppy sound that fans wished to hear on Cycles. So I must say this for the final time; Cartel is back.

www.myspace.com/cartel

Recommended If You LikeChroma, Jeff Lett's Grizzly Adam's Beard, The Starting Line's Direction. If you hated Boy's Like Girl's Love Drunk, you will fall in love with Cycles
 
Displaying posts 1 - 11 of 11
09:46 PM on 11/27/09
#2
SpyKi
This Charming Man
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I still don't know why people dislike the selftitled so much, it's my favourite by them. Also, I liked this album about as much as Love Drunk, good but not as good as previous efforts.
09:59 PM on 11/27/09
#3
TERRABITHIA
Lights, Camera, Action.
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I still don't know why people dislike the selftitled so much, it's my favourite by them..

I also didn't see what was so bad about it. Of course it was a big step down from Chroma. I think it was an album that people either love or hate, but it did not sell very well. Everyone has different opinions though and I do agree with you about not knowing why people disliked it so much.
10:14 PM on 11/27/09
#4
SpyKi
This Charming Man
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I also didn't see what was so bad about it. Of course it was a big step down from Chroma. I think it was an album that people either love or hate, but it did not sell very well. Everyone has different opinions though and I do agree with you about not knowing why people disliked it so much.
I don't even see it as a step down from Chroma, I can see why people would prefer Chroma but I don't know how someone can love Chroma and hate the selftitled.
03:00 PM on 11/28/09
#5
birtcho
is...
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that encore was planned if they hadn't already played honestly
and the perfect mistake
05:36 PM on 11/28/09
#6
Yellowcard2006
I'll buy you a raincoat
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I found the S/T to be really boring. But this album brought back what I love about the band. Nice review.
01:30 PM on 11/29/09
#7
Memphis
Eight miles high and falling fast
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this album actually keeps growing on me, which isn't usual in the pop punk genre...
02:05 PM on 11/29/09
#8
:-)
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Band In A Bubble**
08:42 PM on 12/08/09
#9
musicinmotion
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that encore was planned if they hadn't already played honestly
and the perfect mistake
most encores by bands are planned.
08:46 PM on 12/08/09
musicinmotion
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oh and i agree, the self title release was a very solid album, but when you put it up next to chroma its definitely the lesser of the 2. Cycles is an amazing comeback even though I feel like they shouldn't have to win peoples loyalty/respect back. These dudes are too talented!
10:21 PM on 01/03/10
nathaniel
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Chroma was great, Cartel was spotty and mediocre at best, and Cycles is fantastic. They have established a solid sound that fits them well.
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