ALBUM REVIEW: Columbus – A Hot Take On Heart Break
As we get ready to enter the summer months it’s time to fire up the barbecues, apply the sun screen and bring out the pop punk playlists. This means that the timing for the sophomore release from the young Aussie trio Columbus couldn’t be any better.
The band’s debut full length release Spring Forever saw the band conquering their home country, playing shows all over Australia and abroad including supporting slots for pop punk heavyweights like Real Friends, Trophy Eyes and ROAM. The boys are now looking to take the next step in their careers and elevate themselves from a supporting act to a headliner with their second album A Hot Take On Heart Break. The band have been very open about the fact that this album is a massive departure from their previous release, and the main influence for the album is closer to alternative rock bands rather than the pop punk stylings that have served them so well up to this point.
The opening salvo of I Don’t Know How To Act and Care At All perfectly achieve their goal of setting the tone for the rest of the album. The former kicks things off with punchy, distorted guitar lines that intertwine perfectly with the full bass sound and up beat drum parts, to create a real 90s rock vibe. The vocal melodies are catchy, the lyrics are well thought out and the performance from frontman/guitarist Alex Moses serves the song well as he emotively belts out the harmonies. The backing vocals from bassist Ben Paynter pair up wonderfully with Moses, and add that extra layer to the vocals to enhance and emphasise the main hooks in the song.
The latter, Care At All, sounds like it could have been pulled directly from Weezer’s classic 2001 self-titled album (often referred to as the green album). This track is a brilliant throwback to bands such as the aforementioned Weezer and the earlier work of Jimmy Eat World; with its crunching, distorted guitars and massively catchy chorus, featuring brilliant interlinking vocal harmonies that are destined to burrow their way into your ears and nest for some considerable time.
One of the real highlights of the album comes in the form of Woke Up With A Heart Attack. The song begins with a reverb-heavy, clean guitar part and soft vocals from Moses, whilst he showcases his intelligent and well-crafted lyrics. Then the chorus hits and once again you are swept up in a chorus that sounds like it has been penned by the genius Rivers Cuomo himself. It’s easy to get whisked away by the melody of the song and to ignore the fact that the words that are being sung are inherently sad. The song tells the story of a lover who misses his other half and how he is dealing with the loss and nostalgia of it all (you didn’t expect the band to completely abandon their pop punk roots, did you?).
Songs such as Piece Of Shit and Cut It Out are much closer to the band’s previous style. They are both very straight to the point and there is very little nonsense about them. Unfortunately, they seem to have a little bit of a filler feel to them. This is not to say that they are bad songs by any stretch of the imagination, it is more that they feel like they have been thrown into the album to fill up the run time. Both of the tracks are fun and will no doubt serve the band well in the live setting, as they are catchy and upbeat in style and delivery. They just lack that little bit of originality and staying power.
However, album closer Feel This Way is a different case entirely. The acoustic guitars and soft vocal lines resonate like Clarity era Jimmy Eat World and will sound fantastic when the track gets stripped back for live performances. There is something to be said for keeping songs simple with a performer and their guitar (excluding the once again wonderfully written dual vocal melodies), and it cannot be denied that this track was the perfect closer to an album that is going to do Columbus some massive favours in the long run.
A Hot Take On Heart Break is a massive leap in a new direction for the band and one that would not have been taken lightly by Moses, Paynter and Seymour. The result, however, is a band that sound far more comfortable and well suited to the music that they are creating as a cohesive unit. This album is the first step in a much more creatively fruitful direction for a very talented young band, and although we have hit the Weezer similarities quite hard here (let’s be honest, it’s pretty hard not to), with the original Weezer sounding less and less like their former selves nowadays, it’s refreshing that a band can take lessons and inspiration from all of the finer points of the band’s back catalogue and make them their own in a completely original way.
The future seems very positive for this band: it is undeniable that this stylistic change in writing has been made for the better and they benefit from it as a whole. We’re certainly intrigued as to what the band will come out with on their next release.
Standout Tracks: Care At All, Woke Up With A Heart Attack, Feel This Way
For Fans Of: Weezer, Milk Teeth, The All American Rejects
Written by Richard Webb