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6 out of 10
Echo Screen's latest EP supposedly showcases 5 tracks of pop-punk goodness, and all the signs seem good; before you listen to it. Facing a struggle, as most bands these days do, Echo Screen went their separate ways to allow the creative spark to come back to their song writing process. Employing Ace Enders of Early November fame to produce their comeback effort will help increase their appeal to those who still miss TEN. This however is not a typical Enders album, and nor should it be, Enders' job here is to allow Echo Screen to sound as good as they can do and this is achieved, Echo Screen are obviously a band who knows their craft, and the move away from their older sound has been handled seamlessly, however, that does not mean this is a great EP.
EP opener I Amsterdam has a certain, quirky charm to it, but it begins to grate eventually. While it bounces along similar to Ben Folds song, it just lacks a certain something, a theme that is repeated again during the course of this short EP. Closing on The Sun the album rather limply falls across the finishing line, with an attempted piano ballad that musically has some comparisons to a poor Oasis song. The Sun is the worst song on the CD without doubt, lacking any hooks or memorable features whatsoever. So the album is bookended with weak songs, what about the stuff in the middle?
Well to continue the theme, Bombs Away is an improvement but still not a great song, but at least it has a pretty catchy hook. The acoustic guitar work is fair, but the songs strength lies in the dual vocal work that carries the song. Bombs Away would make a perfectly fine album track on a full-length but the scrutiny is increased on an EP of just 5 tracks and this song falls down on repeated listens.
So far it seems I mostly have negative things to say about this album, and while it does contain two OK tracks and one bad track it is saved by one great track and one song that I literally cannot find a bad thing to say about it. When I Escape (L.A.) is a great song, mixing a breezy electric guitar line with the acoustic it flows nicely before really picking up when it reaches its chorus. Utilising vocal harmonies again, this is Echo Screen showing a maturity and flair for writing good pop music. However, song of the album, and probably the best song Echo Screen have written, goes to The Ballad of Jack Shephard (Battle Chorus), a driving rock track with a pulsing bass line and some soaring vocals. This song sticks in the head, and it will stay there, the chorus employs another dual vocal track that allows the track to sound far "bigger" than it should (kudos to Ace). It is a song that would sound at home in a packed stadium and this is the sound Echo Screen should try and work with.
That being said, this EP has 3 weak tracks to 2 good ones. It balances up and is worth getting a hold of for the two stronger tracks. If Echo Screen can take their sound forward then the rock scene will be better off for having got them back together.
1. I Amsterdam
2. The Ballad of Jack Shephard (Battle Chorus)
3. When I Escape (L.A.)
4. Bombs Away
5. The Sun