Haverford - Alaskan Summer EP
Record Label: Self-Released
Release Date: July 3, 2014
One of the benefits of growing up with with a musical artist is (hopefully) getting to witness the moment when they stop being good and become something great. For up-and-coming emo/indie-rock outfit Haverford, Alaskan Summer very well may be the moment that process begins. Alaskan Summer is an upbeat, dare I say beautiful EP that expands on a number of strengths displayed on last year's full-length Spirit Bear and does away with almost all of that release's downfalls.
Perhaps I should clarify- Spirit Bear is most definitely a good album, and fans of this EP (which is now up as a name-your-price download on Bandcamp) will certainly find something to enjoy in it. If anything, what dragged the record down was an overused production style that often (intentionally) buried the vocals deep underneath layers of atmospheric instrumentation and seemed to allow each mopey, downtempo song to bleed into the next. There were glimmers of something great, but that something seemed to be just on the horizon. Luckily, Alaskan Summer seems to capitalize a new, upbeat direction and straightforward production style that highlights each song as playing its own role during the EP.
The best example of this new direction (which admittedly might not be the best word for it) is the one minute and 27 seconds that is "Juneau". "Junea" kicks off with instantly memorable and bouncy guitars as unique vocals eerily reminiscent of The Early November's Ace Enders sing about the EP's titular theme and the youthful feelings that often accompany it. The song gets a bit messy towards its end, but overall it is a hopeful glimpse towards what Haverford tackles next, and the rest of the EP seems to follow suite.
"Monuments" is a perfect opener, starting with memorable riff and midtempo pace that acts as a middle ground and transition between Spirit Bear and Alaskan Summer. "Alaska" seems to be our first taste of a brighter Haverford, while the second half of highlight "Aaron's Party" truly knocks it out of the park by speeding things up a bit under grin-inducing lines like "Want you on top/Want you on lock/Want you any way I can, just never stop." It's this kind of sheer, newfound confidence that could catapult Haverford to the top of the (nonexistent) emo-revival charts. The band saves the best for last by only including one acoustic track (and the most beautiful of the bunch), first alluding to it at the end of "The Great Bear Rainforest." "Rain Candle" is short and sweet at just over two minutes, and it wraps up the EP splendidly by including just fragments of Spirit Bear's signature style, mentioned above.
In Alaskan Summer, we see a variety of things, but most importantly, we find diversity and experience. Haverford is growing as a band, and seem to only be improving with each release. It would be a mistake to blink now and miss the arrival of what should be emo's next great buzz band.