Valencia - We All Need A Reason To Believe Release Date: August 26, 2008
Record Label: Columbia
There is perhaps no better way to open than with the name of Valencia's latest tour, Say No To Neon. The name of this tour describes the Philadelphia quintet (Shane Henderson - vocals, Brendan Walter - lead guitar, JD Perry - rhythm guitar, George Ciukurescu - bass, and Maxim Soria - drums) perfectly. With pop-punk being taken over by overly flamboyant boy bands that care more about what they wear than what they play (like All-Time Low and The Higher), it is very satisfying to know that there are still bands that put their hearts and souls into their music.
I loved Valencia's debut album, This Could Be A Possibility, and thought that it would be a very hard act to follow. On first listen, it seemed as if my assumption was correct. The songs seemed so much more "polished" than they had on the first release. However, after another listen (in which I began listening to the intricacies), the record began to stick with me. After three or four more listens, I was in love with the new "smooth sounding" songs that Valencia decided to put on their sophomore album.
The album starts off with "Better Be Prepared," a catchy song with a great hook ("You've got me walking through the back door/ Hoping that I'll find you sitting there"), the first of many lyrics that allude to the loss of Henderson's late girlfriend, Dana Leigh Burrell. The next stand out song is "Where Did You Go?," an incredibly addictive song with an infectious drum beat that anyone would want to tap their toes to. This song borrows some lyrics from "Remember The First Day," a song written by Henderson for his solo project, Promise of Redemption. After four fast songs in a row to start off the album, "Carry On" (Valencia's first ballad) brings a sad sound to the record, while staying consistent with the record's optimistic lyrics.
"All At Once" is a trip in the time machine back to the old Valencia as it gives off a "bad ass" Alkaline Trio vibe. The production of this song is part of what really makes it special, along with Shane Henderson's truly amazing vocals. Finally, the penultimate song "The Good Life" is possibly the best song on the album. With a riff reminiscent of early Social Distortion, this country-inspired song is utter perfection.
Valencia came out with a great debut that was followed up by an even more magnificent sophomore album. With Henderson's heart and soul so clearly laid on the line in the lyrics of this album, and his incredible vocals, it is "Safe To Say" that this album should go down as the best pop-punk album of 2008. We All Need A Reason To Believe will be an even harder album for Valencia to follow up, but after doubting them last time, I think I have a reason to believe in them this time.
Better Be Prepared (B+)
Where Did You Go? (A+)
Head In Hands (A-)
Carry On (A)
All At Once (A)
Safe To Say (A-)
Listen Up (A-)
I Can't See Myself (B)
The Good Life (A+)