So many thoughts come to mind when I think of this California-based pop-punk group. This Time Next Year is a band that not only captured my ear, but also my heart when their demo recording landed in my mailbox. I was so infatuated with their sound that I literally put my money where my mouth was when I released A Place for You last year - an album that will forever be cherished for reasons too many to count.
As another calendar year has unfolded, so has the time come for This Time Next Year to release a new album, this time an EP with two new songs, an acoustic version of “Sweetest Air,” and a Kid Dynamite cover. The good folks at Run for Cover - who’ve already released quality records from This is Hell, Sinking Ships, and Fireworks - offer this plastic up for all to enjoy.
The Longest Way Home starts off with two new cuts, “Alex in Wonderland” and “Cheers to a Late Night.” Like their previous material there is an abundance of upbeat guitars balancing between pogo riffs and interweaving melodies handled by guitarists Brad Wiseman and Denis Cohen. The dueling guitars are teamed up with the bouncing basslines of Tony Allio and Aaron Seminoff’s energetic drumming. Vocalist Pete Dowdalls launches into action with his soaring harmonies and sugary-sweet lyrical hooks. Dowdalls occasionally gets help with backing vocals from Wiseman with a juxtaposing, rougher approach. Musically the new cuts show tremendous growth as songwriters. The sound is reminiscent of Take Your Pants Off and Jacket-era Blink 182, particularly “Cheers to a Late Night,” which is beyond superb.
This Time Next Year mixes things up with an acoustic rendition of “Sweetest Air” from their previous effort. A lot of times these acoustic reworking of songs can end up a disaster, but that is not the case here. The song is stripped down to its most basic parts: guitars and vocals. In spite of this supposed lack of substance, the song still evokes the heartfelt sentiments of the lyrics. The second verse through sees the addition of string instruments, which are then followed by the inclusion of sparse piano keys. The result is fucking magic…it’s like the topping to a Blonde Brownie at Applebee’s (You know what I’m talking about).
The EP wraps up with a cover of Kid Dynamite’s “3 O’clock.” The band members contribute a fairly faithful rendition of the song musically while vocally Dowdalls leans in a softer pop direction than the original. The cover is ultimately pushed into a direction more in line with This Time Next Year’s sound as a result. But who wants to hear a band cover a song note for note? Not me.
For a CD release, this album is quite on the short side, even for an EP. But taking into account the fact that this was originally supposed to be a 7" release to tide over until the band released its first full-length, it’s more than sufficient. Bottom-line, This Time Next Year are will no doubt be leading the next wave of pop-punk bands to take the music world by storm. Pay attention now; this is the next big thing!
8.5 / 10
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