Album Review
We Are the Union - Great Leaps Forward Album Cover

We Are the Union - Great Leaps Forward

Reviewed by
We Are the Union - Great Leaps Forward
Record Label: Paper & Plastick
Release Date: March 30, 2010
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
After self-releasing their debut record, Who We Are, in 2007, Detroit punk-rock ska band We Are The Union have created their own version of ska music, fusing fast paced, punk-rock music with ska influenced music and horns. We Are The Union signed with Paper+Plastick, the same label as fun. and The Swellers, for their sophomore album, Great Leaps Forward. Teaming up with producer Matt Allison (Alkaline Trio, The Lawrence Arms, Less Than Jake), the band crafted Great Leaps Forward, a fast-paced, fun album combining melodic hardcore with punk influenced ska music and horns.

This is a socially conscious album loosely based on the concept that at some point every one of us will die and that there is no life after death. Lyrically, Reed Wolcot writes about today’s society, its flaws, growing up, and living without regret or fear. He appears candid, brutally honest, and open throughout Great Leaps Forward’s entirety, making the album incredibly easy to relate to.

“We’re All Dead”, a song about making the most of the time we have while we’re alive and not worrying about the afterlife (“our reflection, gods and guns; hollow distractions”) kicks the album off, and as the horns kick in, it’s immediately evident that We Are The Union are not the typical punk band. “Where’d You Go, Psycho Boy” is a short, very fast-paced song discussing not having a fear of speaking out, as Reed Wolcot explains “...we all need to help create new ways of being man.” “Rearranging Deck Chairs on the Titanic” is paced by horns, yet is a dark song, using a metaphor of a drug overdose to symbolize how people are letting corporations and businesses ruin lives.

“Glaring Teeth” is a sinister track about a murder, while “Strange, Slow and Old” is the heaviest track thus far on the record. “We Don’t Care If Yesterday Burns, Stoke Up the Fire” is a standout track on the record, with the unique sound of the horns and the theme of being optimistic (“here’s to the silver lining”). This track shows that Matt Belanger is a great trombonist. “Five Out of Five Kids Who Kill Love Slayer” and “Start Over Starting Over” are about growing up, keeping the pace and theme of Great Leaps Forward going. “Five” features a future fan favorite one-liner: “I don't need blood stains on my hand to make me feel like I'm a man.”

“This Is A Farewell Kiss, You Dog” is another short, fast track, and next track “Between the Devil and The Deep Blue Sea” is the slowest song on the album, demonstrating bassist Brandon Benson’s skills. “One Million Motors” is an emotional track where Wolcot discusses the feelings of leaving behind a loved one to tour (“leaving feels a lot like falling”). “Curtain Calls” criticizes those who live life for money, yet do not enjoy the life they live, and album closer “Be Kind, Rewind” is the perfect ending for this album, recalling the theme of the album as Wolcot sings “don't waste your last breath to ask for redemption/forgive yourself, reinvent salvation.”

With their sophomore release, it’s clear that We Are The Union have in fact taken great leaps forward, proving that the record's title is perfect. They have created a concise, well-constructed album that showcases all of their skills. It seems that We Are The Union have no plans to stop moving forward any time soon.

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02:22 PM on 04/16/10
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Jim I bet you're gonna tug your c_o_c_k when you read this shit.

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