Pop-punk is dead.
Okay, so maybe that isn’t as great or grand as the statement Nas made in 2007 about hip-hop, but it still applies here. Once a genre full of camaraderie, energy, and statements has become stale, as bands are more concerned with their neon clothes, swooping hair cuts, and which 17 year old groupie they are going to nail tonight. Pop punk is dead. And like Nas tried to resurrect his genre, we need a band that can breathe new life into pop-punk.
This band is Valencia.
The band’s debut, 2005’s This Could Be A Possibility, was overall a good album, displaying themes and vibes that brought back memories of quality pop-punk, but their Columbia Records debut, We All Need A Reason To Believe takes the Philadelphia quintet’s sound to the next level. Produced by Ariel Rechtshaid (We Are Scientists, Plain White T’s), We All Need A Reason To Believe features eleven tracks that are fast, raw, and pack an emotional punch the majority of the bands in the genre fail to generate.
Like a wave crashing into the shore, “Better Be Prepared” kicks off the album with huge guitars and big vocals from Shane Henderson. It’s a kick in the seat of your pants, as you’ve just been buckled into the ride. “Holiday” is a catchy toe-tapper, as the duel guitar riffs from Brendan Walter and JD Perry anchor the track.
Valencia does a great job of delivery throughout, as they fuse the slower, quieter parts with the big and fast, thus avoiding little monotony on the album. Strings and bells blend beautifully with the huge outro on “Where Did You Go?,” while “Carry On” channels some Ben Folds.
The one song that screams “I’m a huge single!” is “All At Once,” a dramatic song that’ll sweep you away. Henderson’s vocal delivery is absolutely perfect on this track, the vindication in his voice is sharp and frantic. And when the strings join the “whoa-oh’s” and frenetic riffs in the bridge, it gives me chills.
There are very few missteps on We All Need A Reason To Believe,, as the album never lets up. “Can’t See Myself” follows the formula seen on the entire album, yet still remains fresh, as the rhythm section of bassist George Ciukurescu and drummer Maxim Soria give the song personality. “Free” closes the album in huge fashion. Soria is unrelenting on the kit, as the track is full of moxie and needlepoint guitar riffs. And once again, Henderson’s vocals just absolutely kill, as this final track is just the icing on the cake.
So maybe pop-punk isn’t dead yet, as long as bands like Valencia are producing music, we can always have hope that heart, passion, sweat, and intensity will still be pouring out from the genre. We All Need A Reason To Believe is a great album; it can be light and heavy at the same, invoking all of your emotions during its 40 minute run time. Perhaps the genre has never been dead, and Valencia provides the reason for us to believe in it again.