Loser’s Luck - The Places Between Us
Record Label: Captiva Records
Release Date: 2004
I had the introduction to this review all planned out. I was going to talk about what I thought were the quintessential pop-punk bands of all time, and make some commentary about what passed for pop-punk during my high school years and what qualifies as pop-punk now. But then I thought to myself, “What gives me the right to make grand over-arching claims to a genre that’s been around longer than me? Am I honestly that pretentious?” I am, but I still scrapped that intro, because as well as pretentious, I’m lazy. Plus, Chopped is on. Regardless, the thing about Loser’s Luck’s full length album, The Places Between Us, that makes it remarkable is that it captures the energy and fun of releases from pop-punk greats like MxPx, blink-182, and Green Day while maintaining its own unique sound.
“I’ll Never Learn” is as good of an intro as you could want. A couple measures of undistorted, inconspicuous guitar chords suddenly explode into a full band assault and gang vocals of “LET‘S GO!” A lesser band would be satisfied with such a powerful intro, but the band is relentless in keeping the energy maxed out until the very end. The opening song is followed by “A Choice”, a simple, poppy number. Repetitiveness isn’t an issue when a song is as fun and light hearted as this is. It also doesn’t hurt that they have drummer Britton Campbell, who’s like the Energizer bunny behind the drum kit.
But the band prove they’re not just a one trick pony confined to fast paced, Ritalin laced pop-punk songs. During the band’s next offering, the slow and sappy “Loneliness Again”, they effectively combine Campbell’s dynamic, energetic drumming style with mellow melody. Oh, and when I said sappy, I meant sappy. But trust a jaded, unemployed college graduate when I say that vocalist Adam Gardner delivers lines like “Goodnight, maybe I’ll take this medicine called sleep. I want to overdose on this night’s loneliness again,” so genuinely and endearingly that it will make your inner romantic go, “Awwww.” The next two tracks return to the energy and fun of the first two songs, and if you can’t relate to “If We Had to Choose…”, you’ve probably never been in love. So at the very least clean the wax out of your ears and see if your body can keep up with this spitfire song.
“Derailed Dreams” is the only misstep. While all pop-punk albums may need an acoustic number, Gardner leaves himself open for criticism during this stripped down offering. The track stands out as a bit bare, even for an obligatory acoustic track, and Adam’s nasal and strained vocals seem too exposed. The group makes a swift recovery with “One Kiss”, where they lay on thick the romantic sentiments along with huge gang vocals that will have you calling up your childhood sweetheart. They then shift gears for “The Innocent”, a pro-life, hardcore punk song, and while the screams during the bridge may be a bit cringe worthy, the technical prowess of the rhythm section courtesy of Charlie Springhart and Britton Campbell more than makes up for them. “Something to Someone” is a great sampling of huge guitars and drums before the final song, “Loser’s Luck”, which is easily the biggest song on the album. The band pulled out all the stops in composing one heck of a closer, nay, anthem. Don’t resist the swell in your chest and the new found sense of confidence you gain while the band is crying out, “So close your eyes, and find some strength inside and say, ‘Everything will be just fine. Everything will be alright.’ Trust me.”
Ultimately, it’s that positive attitude that adds to The Places Between Us’ lasting value. It’s no wonder that when these guys called it quits the St. Louis independent music scene almost imploded like a dying star from the emptiness within itself. I mean, that truly is a testament to the impact these guys had. Their popularity wasn’t simply because they wrote overly romantic pop-punk songs. It was due to the honesty that was behind these songs and how they wore that honesty on their sleeves for their fans and friends. It’s that type of honesty that got me listening as a high school student, keeps me listening as a young college grad, and will have me returning for nostalgic listens in the future.
This is the third and final review that I'm doing of St. Louis bands I listened to in high school that I thought were the best St. Louis had to offer the music scene. I still listen to these bands (not recently though cause my iTunes crashed and I lost a bunch of music). If you want to know why I started this series, check out my blog here: http://www.absolutepunk.net/journal....412 &e=287502.
Since I wasn't able to reacquire my fourth favorite and first favorite St. Louis albums, I'll probably do a short breakdown of my top five in my blog so you can check them out there.