People On Vacation - Holiday Vacation
Record Label: Brando Records
Release Date: December 11, 2012
When veteran pop-punker Jaret Reddick of Bowling For Soup teamed up with melancholy Smile Smile frontman Ryan Hamilton to form People On Vacation, we knew it was going to be fun. They made that apparent in the indie-pop sound they created, the array of covers they performed, and in their interactive live show. They certainly made it clear in the number and variety of things they do online for fans. So it came as no surprise when they decided to record their take on a holiday album, catered directly to their fans. There's plenty of fun to be had here, as well as a touching moment or two, and catchy pop music all around.
While the album consists of mostly originals, it kicks off with a synthy take on "Joy To The World". It's quite unique to POV's usual sound -- it starts off with Jaret and Ryan harmonizing acapella, and the rest of the track is all keys and layered vocals. The album then takes a decidedly more classic rock feel, with the originals "Because It's Christmas" and "Something About Christmas". Both are somewhat basic rockers, with the latter featuring guest vocals from Letters To Cleo's Kay Hanley. "Cheer Up (It's Christmas)", a track that was originally released last year, makes an appearance here. It's got some mild humor about family Christmas tradition, and sounds great with its even pace, synth-chimes, and electronic drums.
This album was funded through Kickstarter, which will be apparent on the track "What Would Be Your Christmas Wish". The track has the guys singing individual Christmas wishes submitted by fans who backed the album's funding, with wishes ranging from getting to hang with the band to self-promotion to an actual in-album marriage proposal. The target audience for this song is the people who paid for a mention on it, but it's still an enjoyable listen. There's a number of comically posed wishes, and the acoustic guitars sound great, despite the song's simplicity.
POV's second and last traditional song on the album is a rendition of "12 Days of Christmas". It's got a lot of distortion on the guitars, but other than that, it's pretty much straightforward. The guys get moody with "It Must Be Christmas" and "For the First Time (I Won't Be Home For Christmas)". On the former, the guys draw on their singer-songwriter influences for the obligatory somber, reflective track, which longingly remembers childhood holiday experiences and laments the loss of loved ones. After these two, POV leaves us with the amusing outro track "Don't Forget About Hanukkah", which sees Jaret and Ryan sharing their (very limited) knowledge of the Jewish holiday and the importance of... not forgetting it.
Overall, the album is a light-hearted and fun release for fans of the band and Christmas music in general. If you're looking for a few tracks to entertain you on the way to Christmas dinner, I recommend adding this one to your playlist. You're sure to have a good time.