I promised Cartel I wouldn’t ruin the surprise of their new album name (which again starts with a ‘C’ - sorry guys, it’s too cool to not mention), track listing, or anything like that - so my first impressions on the album are going to be formulated in a way to keep those surprises intact.
What I like most about the new release is that the band didn’t simply go in and try and re-write Chroma or Cycles. They took a lot of what worked in those albums and applied it to the songs here; however, instead of simply making the same songs again … it feels like they’ve flushed out their music by letting the songs breathe more. For lack of a better term, I want to use the word “airy” - there’s more space in each song, while still maintaining the band’s go-to catchy demeanor. There are a few songs that remind of me of Chase This Light era Jimmy Eat World or Acceptance-like instrumentation.
It also feels like the the music gives Will a little more to work with - vocally.
There are a variety of stand-outs: Track 2, 6, (the last 30 seconds of 7), 8, 9, and 11 are all up there with the best the band’s done and should sound fantastic live.
My only complaints are with a few of the lyrics being a little sappy and that the album’s mix isn’t nearly as crisp as their previous full-length (but does anyone do crisp like Neal Avron?) … I’d say production is on par with or better than their latest EP though.
Three listens in and I can say that the album sits right in the band’s catalog … we’re far enough into the band’s career that you know what you’re getting in a lot of ways (I’d make this analogous with Yellowcard albums), but their willingness to continue to play with their own sound gives the listener something that sounds familiar yet refreshing.
TL;DR: Fans of Cartel will find another album to love from a band that’s doing the whole pop-rock thing better than most.
Update: The album is titled Collider.