This Ontario 5-piece stamp their mark on 2017 by releasing what is quite probably the pop-punk album of the year.
After the release of 2015’s Colour Blind, we were all very much aware of just what Seaway were capable of. Catchy hooks and insatiable choruses were littered throughout the release and rendered it a mainstay in any essential pop-punk collection. The material preceding this also saw Seaway produce some gems, Hoser was not a bad album by any means and the EPs surrounding these albums featured fan favourites such as Sabrina The Teenage Bitch (still one of the best song names ever) and Your Best Friend. After such a promising back catalogue, it’s no surprise that expectations for Vacation were high.
In addition to this is the fact that the band had spent the clear majority of 2016/17 touring the world (largely as a support act), spreading their craft to the masses – no doubt it worked absolute wonders for the publicity of the band – I’ll hold my hands up and admit that until earlier this year I had been sleeping on Seaway. After I bought my ticket to Slam Dunk and hearing my friends constantly wax lyrical about the band, I thought that I should probably give them a spin – the records peaked my interest and the subsequent live set had me hooked.
Rest assured, Vacation does not disappoint. The four singles released in anticipation of the full release (Apartment, Something Wonderful, Curse Me Out and Lula On The Beach) are all undoubted standouts that perfectly teed up the calibre of music that would be on offer throughout the LP. The formula is simple, once again, the catchy hooks reel listeners in and those who stay will get to appreciate the layers that may not be obvious at a first listen. Although it may be their most enticing quality, there is much more to Seaway than an infectious chorus.
In my review of Apartment, I touched upon the imperative importance of the relationship between the vocals of Ryan Locke and Patrick Carleton. This dynamic is exercised to perfection throughout the album. Both vocalists have the standard pop-punk trope of the twangy whine that will undoubtedly represent most of the vocals, however, when you have the two voices constantly interchanging and dancing around/on top of each other, it prevents these stylings from growing stale. Moreover, Locke has an incredible roughness around the edges of his voice that adds venom and tenacity to their overall sound – an element that many of their colleagues in the genre lack.
I’ve been listening to the album on loop since its release and it persists to grow on me. One can’t help but belt out the choruses and bounce around to the riffs – it really is a testament to just how assured Seaway are when it comes to producing their art. When any album features as many as twelve tracks, you’d be hard-pressed to label every single track as a world beater. There are certainly a couple of songs here that fall victim to the auditory background – the likes of Misery In You, Car Seat Magazine and When I Hang Up are largely forgettable but don’t do any harm to the record as a whole. However, it must be said, tracks one through to seven are fucking lit.
On paper, Seaway are the complete package. Impressive and accomplished songwriting prowess complimented by a frenetically addictive live show should see these guys destined for the stars. On the other hand, Seaway are an out and out pop-punk band and pop-punk is a restrictive genre. No, it’s not dead, it won’t ever die, but there’s only so far that you can take your music. It’s not necessarily the base simplicity that’s an issue – it’s no secret that the most popular songs out there will undoubtedly stick to a four-chord progression in a 4/4 beat – that’s your pop element. The punk side of things insists upon tradition (distorted guitars, crashing drums etc.) and while not a problem for fans of the genre or indeed for fans of rock (excuse that blanket categorisation) music, it could rub more fickle listeners up the wrong way. For these reasons, I would tip Seaway for big things without thinking twice, but how big are things in the pop-punk scene?
Overall, fair play to the Seaboiz, it hasn’t taken them long to become one of my favourite bands from this genre.