Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Awkward Romance

October 1, 2003

“Fast Pop Emo” is what The Awkward Romance plays. I can agree with that label. It’s poppy, it’s emo-ish, it turns punk at times, and it’s mostly fast. But so is lots of other stuff. So why does this stand out? Well, it doesn’t, really.

“Blue Sunday” sets off the fantastically named “We’ve Never Heard of You Either”, and it has a hooky, accessible intro which unfolds into a hooky, accessible pop-punk song. The vocals are high, a bit forced, and whiny, but they are used well here and don’t detract too much from the song. This is one of the best tracks, if not the best track, on the album. The rest of the album plays out like a nightmare, a dream that has a good premise but is convoluted into horrific twists at every turn. They feature three vocalists, and that in theory is pretty cool. The sad part is, the two they use the most are very sub-par to the one they use for “Blue Sunday”, and they ruin almost every single song on the album. They sing out of their ranges, out of key, and out of their minds, apparently. This is saved from an automatic F by the fact that the bassist and drummer have talent to spare. The bassist has a technical prowess that is enviable by most bands today. He can write a hook (dare I say) better than their guitarist. His walking lines don’t just walk. They run. He also plays with a musicality that is highly uncommon in today’s musical scene. The drummer backs him up perfectly, infusing these pop/punk (note the slash, which means the two are separate) songs with a creativity and intensity that only a drummer can create. Their guitarist is proficient, but as a hook writer, he’s not the greatest. He can write a great intro (nearly all of these songs have ear-catching intros), and he can solo (he displays a powerful one on the end of “My Epiphany”), but the hooks are just average. This quirk in their playing leads to songs that catch your ear, then don’t go anywhere, or if they do go anywhere, it’s down. Along with three vocalists, they have multiple lyricists, and while each has his own personal style, none of them are particularly spectacular. The topics run the gamut from some small angst to girls to religion and back, which is nothing we haven’t heard before. Besides “Blue Sunday”, the one song that works together perfectly (and features a coherent vocal track) is the short song “I’ll Name It Later”, which features the punch all the other songs were missing directly after the intro.

I started this review with an open mind. It’s not like I said: “Ha, I haven’t written a killer review in a long time…let’s screw THEM over!” The Awkward Romance has some great things going on instrumentally, but the vocals just hurt them so much. Maybe it was the performance. Maybe it was just the recording. I don’t know what it is, but something’s gotta change.


Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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