Anyone who’s been paying attention to emo/punk e-zine message boards over the last few weeks has undoubtedly noticed a certain buzz regarding one relatively new, obscure band. With each passing day, the buzz has slowly grown louder and louder, as more and more people have chimed in, claming that “this band will be an instant favorite,” and that “pop punk has found its savior.” Signed to I Surrender Records, Rob Hitt of Midtown’s label, Valencia is the band underground pop punk lovers have been raving over lately—and for good reason. This Could Be a Possibility, Valencia’s debut album, is exactly the kick in the pants pop punk has needed for a while now.
Somewhat reminiscent of older Starting Line but more mature both musically and lyrically, Valencia plays a brand of infectious, high octane pop rock that doesn’t waste much time whining about girls and broken hearts. Pop punk isn’t really a genre known for musicianship or originality, which makes it pretty easy game for elitists to take aim at, and while there certainly are many bands that don’t know how to play anything but power chords and octaves (both are fundamental guitar techniques), or couldn’t write a somewhat interesting chord progression to save their lives, I assure you that Valencia is not one of those bands. Showcasing beautiful, harmonized guitar hammer-ons on “The Closest I Am to Living Life on the Edge,” and demonstrating their knack for penning ridiculous hooks on songs such as “Eagle Mount Drive” and “Three Thousand Miles,” Valencia is skilled far beyond their ages might suggest. They may not be genre-defying, but Valencia sure knows how to do what they do well. Really fucking well.
From the moment the album starts (“There’s something strange going on in my head,” vocalist Shane Henderson yells out), it’s apparent that This Could Be a Possibility kicks ass. There aren’t too many other ways to put it, really. And unlike many other CDs released these days, the album only seems to grow stronger, in my opinion (though for that last statement, let’s just assume the album starts with the second track, “Que Sera Sera,” because the first song, “The Space Between,” is truly exceptional, complete with handclaps and a really great sing-along chorus). In fact, my favorite track, the smooth, somewhat melancholic, hook-filled “Away We Go,” appears last on the album, and ends the CD with a bang.
If there’s anything that I’m disappointed with regarding This Could Be a Possibility, it would have to be the production. I feel like the guitars have too much distortion on them, which muddies things up a bit and at times makes the band sound sloppy, though they aren’t. I also think that the drums sound too distant/room-y and that perhaps using triggers might give it that nice final punch (if the band did use triggers, perhaps they could bring them up in the mix). And this is my last time being an asshole, but the synth line in “What Are You Doing Man? That’s Weird” just gets drowned out completely in the mix, but that’s a small little complaint from a nit-picker.
Overall, Valencia’s This Could Be a Possibility is an amazing pop punk album that, along with Houston Calls’ A Collection of Short Stories, has me excited about the genre once again. Definitely pick this album up if you like The Starting Line, The Early November, or the traditional “Drive Thru” sound. Oh, and you might want to grab earplugs before the album hits stores, because that little buzz I was talking about earlier will soon become a deafening roar.