Reviews Elway Leavetaking

Elway

Leavetaking

Listening to Elway’s debut Delusions there was a lot of promise. It’s a solid record, nice songwriting, big hooks and memorable choruses. It’s modern Midwestern punk but with a greater ear toward emotion and even a bit of drama, more Lawrence Arms in tone than, say, Banner Pilot. Where Delusions hit a wall was in just how similar it could get to Larry Arms songs, particularly those led by Chris McCaughan.

Well, as I accurately predicted (gratuitous horn tooting here), the band is taking that influence but growing in their own direction on their second full-length,Leavetaking. The songs are stretching out and the guitars are pulling some emo and post-hardcore influence to flesh them out and stretch the musical tone to match the lyricism. That last sentence stinks of a band abandoning a good thing when it was working for them, but that’s not the case with Leavetaking, as it’s a solid progression and far more subtle a change. Songs like “Christopher” and “Patria Mia (Room 20)” utilize more depth to the instrumentation, playing off one another instead of pounding out the chords, and “There Is a Line” has a building, powerful feel that lies in the song’s rhythm and progression, more subtly than one expects of “a pop-punk band.”

All that said, the McCaughan comparison is still pretty obvious. “Salton Sea,” one of the album’s better songs, has a classic Lawrence Arms feel and “Someday, Sea Wolf” and “Prophetstown” also stand out in similar fashion. The latter of those songs, though, also exemplifies the transition, with the winding guitars taking the song in a new direction while the group chorus pulls it back into familiar territory. 

The sequencing on the record fits this growth, putting the more predictably structured songs near the start and building them toward a more expansive closing. Tucked midway through is an acoustic song, “Montreal.” Lyrically speaking, there an obvious influence of life on the road, definitely a common theme for sophomore albums—write what you know, right?—and stories are peppered with strong characters and detailed imagery. At times, I found myself thinking of Nothington and Arms Aloft so, despite all the talk of growth and changing things up, the band is still firmly rooted in the same scene and is well at home on the Red Scare label.

7.4 / 10Loren
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7.4 / 10

7.4 / 10

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