A lot has changed for Cartel since the release of 2009’s beloved Cycles. Bassist Jeff Lett left the band and was not replaced. More importantly, the band decided to split from Wind-Up Records and release In Stereo entirely independently. Still, the transition from Cycles to now shows no missteps, as this EP picks up right where Cartel’s last fantastic attempt left off.
With only five songs to work with, Cartel leave nothing behind throughout In Stereo. As always, Will Pugh soars as a vocalist, exercising an unforgettable vocal performance on “Conduit” over piercing guitars. The musicianship shines on each track, highlighted by guitars mixing wonderfully with the unique vocal delivery on the infectious “American Dreams.” Pugh truly shines on the closing “Something To Believe” which may be the catchiest track on the EP – although it really is hard to choose what song deserves that title.
While choruses soar on each track, it’s not all pop and no punk here. The title track is fast-paced and driven by the call-and-return vocals courtesy of Pugh and Joseph Pepper. The song expresses the angst felt by the band throughout the past couple years. As Pugh belts out, “This is for real a record deal / Trading money for art / I had a plan to start a band / But now it’s falling apart,” it’s evident that this hasn’t been the easiest road for Cartel since their start in 2005
Clocking in at just about the fifteen minute mark, In Stereo proves that Cartel have yet to lose their edge, despite the myriad of changes lately. It will leave fans craving to hear more from the band, but until then, this EP will be blasting in stereos for months to come.