La Bella Charade – Sleepwalkers EP
Record Label: None
Release Date: January 7, 2014
It's been three years since La Bella Charade have released any new music. Their debut album, All Friends, No Fans, sounded like a call back to early Hit The Lights. After all this time, they could have completely overhauled and changed their sound, but instead, they adopt a similar formula for their new EP, Sleepwalkers. Three years later and the guys pick up right where they left off, not throwing any curveballs into the game.
The EP is five three-minute pop-punk tracks that would once again fit right alongside Hit The Light’s Skip School, Start Fights record from back in the day. “Midwestern Heat” kicks off the EP with a meaty bass line pulsing throughout. While the song starts off fast-paced like any other pop-punk song, thankfully it comes to a slower halt near the end. “Gospel Truth” works similarly, with Ian O’Leary and Justin Brown’s guitar work adding some spice into the mix, and Patrick Hooper’s faster paced vocal delivery fueling the flames.
“Skipping Records” starts off down the expected high-speed road but veers off halfway down it. As the music cuts to disarming palm mutes and a vulnerable delivery of “I gave when my friends clocked in / So I clocked out / Of happy hours and fluorescent light.” The intimate instance comes across as the strongest moment on the EP, but the band should have stuck with it instead of jumping into an expected upbeat ending. What starts off as a unique and unexpected moment gets worn out quite quickly though, as the fast-intimate-fast method shows up again on the next two tracks after having previously appeared. While “Sleeping In” is easily the catchiest song on the EP thanks to Hooper and bassist Dave Shanle, the structure loses its uniqueness immediately when reused for a second time in a row.
Clearly, La Bella Charade can shine when they add in some diversity. However, most of the tracks use the exact same method – start off at a rapid pace, slow down for an intimate mid-section, then end with an anthem-like refrain. Sure, it works well at times, but because it is used in the last three tracks, it loses its unexpectedness and intimacy. Honestly, we don’t need another fast-paced in your face pop-punk band, which is why the calmer sections standout – until they are overused, becoming a crutch. If the band can change up their sound more and alter the structure of their songs, La Bella Charade could be a name to watch out for this year.