TITLE: Chasing Lights
BAND: Reckless Serenade
RELEASED: August 17th 2013
As it’s pretty well-known that I love pop-punk music, I get asked to review a lot of upcoming bands in the genre, which I’m so grateful for. My love of the sound means I’m always going to love the basis of a pop-punk album but of course, some of them nail the authentic classic sound better than others.
After I got over the initial humming of the Arctic Monkeys song with which they share their name, I pressed play on Reckless Serenade’s latest EP Chasing Lights. The New York five-piece launch straight into their high-energy pop-rock with opening track LVLFD. Metallic guitars, crashing drums and a fast vocal delivery with lyrics concerning worries about the future. It’s a great teen party song although I found the harmonies a bit whiney, the fireworks to end were a great quirky way of rounding it off.
Moving on to With Us, Without Us which deals with the tough issue of death in an upbeat manner. Bouncing fuzzy guitars contrast the deep subject matter which is nodded to in the deep bass solo in the second verse. Angst pushes it forward to the end, where it drifts into Sunrise. Guitars play tricks in the intro creating a dramatic opening. There are some clever descriptions in the lyrics as the song tells the tale of an older person giving advice to a youth about living in the moment.
Firing from all cylinders is Cage Rage. Aggression pours through the instruments while the vocals adopt a creeping sinister tone. The story follows the mystery of someone going missing in a small town, which really seems to resonate throughout the track. A funky blues breakdown provides a twist in the track before it’s brought back to the metal screams and impressive guitar runs.
My favourite track is definitely Diamond Kid. The story is a beautiful one about someone who has shut themselves away from society due to depression. The lyrics encourage them to remember how special they are and see how much love there is for them. A calm sad deep guitar weeps during the beginning before the pop-punk lifts things up and the closing lines “There’s a light at the end of this. It’s been dark for so long, you can’t imagine it” are incredibly powerful.
Themes of lovers bringing a lightness to the narrator’s life is something that is visited a few times on the album. Winter Bones and 2 A.M both sing praises of love interests changing lives. Sickly sweet Winter Bones is a fairytale affair with a country guitar while closing track 2 A.M is a philosophical track about finding a purpose in life. Both are hopeful and uplifting which is often the core of pop-punk songs.
Youthful themes such as breaking free from the places and situations we were born into is another common theme that Reckless Serenade draw from. Missile has a slamming repetitive chorus and bouncing crashing metallic instruments. The guitar solo is a beautiful glittering showcase that creates a lovely soundscape which contrasts the brutal nature of the song.
The pairing of Our Year and Weather Permitting shows two different reactions to a break-up. Our Year is the anger towards an ex and determination to move on while Weather Permitting is about missing someone. Covering all emotions, there’s a song for every kind of heartache which means that Reckless Serenade can speak to everyone on the same record.
The album’s big ballad is Burn Brighter, which is stripped back allowing the vocals to shine. Haunting tones and sinister irregular piano leave it open and raw. It suggests that there is an inner passion inside all of us that is waiting to get out. A soft shuffle arrives in the second half of it while a slow drum plays it out amidst a strong lingering atmosphere. Title track Chasing Lights is the only big commercial song on the album. It lends itself perfectly to the sound of pop-punk and although there is a sense of tired hopelessness in the lyrics, it has a young energy running through it.
All in all, Chasing Lights is an album that isn’t exactly full of hits but there are some real gems. Reckless Serenade’s strongest asset is their story-telling, which speaks to a young adult audience. Dealing with issues that affect and interest teens, they’re finding their niche and bringing with it the nostalgic twenty-somethings. There is a touch more metal in their sound than most pop-punk bands but they’re far from honing the grit and darkness of heavy rock.