Album Review: Seaway - Vacation

Written by Maddy Howell

Through the genre’s countless reincarnations and developments in style, pop-punk artists in 2017 have been left with one of two choices. They can either reside themselves to crafting songs that fit the unspoken criteria of the genre, thus churning out cliché after cliché, or they can attempt to break the mold. Fully aware of the risks involved in the latter, Ontario quintet Seaway have returned with the follow up to 2015’s 'Colourblind', aptly titled 'Vacation'.

Loosely following the timeline of a summer fling, the album opens on Apartment, with its high-tempo verses and feverish guitars giving an instant indication of the band’s growing maturity in sound. Lyrically, the track takes on the same vein as the majority of the record, discussing the complications of balancing touring with home life. The rollicking percussion provides echoes of early Mayday Parade, with the bouncy hooks opening proceedings on a prime note.

Throughout the record, Seaway seem to be taking time to reminisce upon the sounds of their youth, with a clear 90s influence peering through on multiple tracks. Opening on a poppy, distorted vocal melody, Neurotic is an instant nostalgia trip back to the bubble-gum pop and Weezer inspired alt rock hooks of the 90s. With its “na na na”s and notes of: 'I hate my hometown' the track does risk dropping a bit too close to cliché, but the focus is quickly drawn back to Seaway’s more experimental side.

The infectious synth notes on summery Lula on the Beach present a softer side to the band’s sound, with the sampling of Brian Hylands' Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie offering another humorous dose of nostalgia. The catchy hooks continue into the experimental London, with its lyrical focus on the typical pop-punk topics of relationship complications and the concept of being “broke.”

Curse Me Out lacks any real punch, with its downbeat tempo and lyrical focus on the pull of tour on home life rendering it a more forgettable moment. Scatter My Ashes Across the Coast, Or Don’t suffers from much the same, with guest vocals from Beartooth’s Caleb Shomo feeling like wasted potential. Car Seat Magazine picks up the pace and brings 'Vacation' back round to its senses, with its dual vocals and tales of a relationship breakdown showcasing the stronger sides of Seaway’s sound.

Tracks such as Something Wonderful and the power-pop styled Misery in You present the band reverting slightly more back to the style that formed their previous works, with the former offering an offbeat array of handclaps and summery hooks. Nods to Friends and Saved By The Bell continue the 90s theme, whilst Day Player offers hooks reminiscent of 90s rock outfit Lit, displaying Seaway developing their mid-tempo style.

'Vacation' draws to a close with 40 Over and When I Hang Up, with the former packed with textured guitars, complimenting the emotive vocals as Ryan Locke laments: “Tell me I’m gonna get it right this time." Recalling notes of The Ataris early work, it’s a conclusion that summarises the band’s expansion and solidifies their newly formed sound.

With their previous albums at times leaving Seaway lost in the ever-expanding and cliché-ridden depths of their genre, 'Vacation' is their clear step in front of their counterparts. Whilst it is by no means perfect, their latest venture presents an organic progression for the band, with their leaning on the pop side of their work proving a refreshing step forward.