In 2000, Dashboard Confessional launched onto the musical archway at a seemingly perfect time. The project was the brainchild of a single man, Chris Carrabba, and is biting deconstruction of bad relationships, angst, and tough times helped popularize the genre of emo.
I bring up this unfortunately dated though talented musical project because there are a lot of parallels between Mr. Carrabba and the sounds of the Los Angeles based group, Ships Have Sailed. Like the aforementioned band, Ships Have Sailed is generally the work of a single man, Will Carpenter. His music touches on a lot of these darker and frustrating elements of life in a bit of a whining manner, which is all fine and dandy. But Carpenter rests on the total tonal opposite spectrum of Dashboard. His music bites, but it does not latch on. It lets go, admits its faults, and continues on in a way that could be considered hopeful.
Ships Have Sailed has released a debut EP, Someday, and it is an astonishingly complete piece of work, filled with the emotional nuances of our late adolescence filtered through the whimsical songwriting of huge indie pop. “Bring You Down” is self-deprecation without the witty charm. It is not suggesting anything. It is saying “if you stay with me, you’ll never be so free.” He brings about these lyrics of borderline self-disgust with instrumentation that is enchanting, spirited, and lifting. It is as if Bono dropped the lyrics about spiritual immortally and started singing about hating himself over the Edge’s massive hooks.
Yet Ships Have Sailed makes it work, because the songwriting is so well paced and free of a lot of tension. It is huge, bombastic, and contagious. But it is not overwrought, which makes Will Carpenter an effective showman building his home on a foundation of great songwriting.
“Midnight” takes no time in getting to that big hook. It’s eruptive and sing-a-long worthy, despite the fact that he is singing about being alone in a dark room and thinking it will be alright. Is he forcing it? Does he really believe this?
I guess when it gets to the NANANANAN chant we have to believe it. The artist’s EP Someday is a stunning collection of bright tunes, carefully calculated mini-orchestration, and dream-conducive sounds. If you are looking for some really good alternative pop that has a bit of substance, you will find some value in this tightly compact release. If you find the words of a man baring his heart to huge guitar hooks attractive and appealing, you will find a lot to love. This is crystalline clear pop, perfectly manufactured to appeal to the right amount of people. It fits a nice mold, and it is not particularly daring on any surface level. But you cannot fault an artist that is so fervently encompassed by his own huge songs, so enamored in music as a whole that despite its lack of daring songwriting, it is honest.
Ryan Merkel is a cool writer guy and contributor all over the internet, from blogs on music to magazines about music to sites about playing music. He is currently founder of SunState Investing and is head editor of the music entertainment magazine, CultureTease. He has written two novels, and is currently working on a third full-length novel, surprisingly, not about music. His novel “Splatter the Noise” earned accolades for independent publishing. Be sure to check out: www.sunstateinvesting.com
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