Forever Came Calling - Contender
Release Date: July 24, 2012
Record Label: Pure Noise Records
Strangely enough, at this point in time, Forever Came Calling is probably best known for its role in the No Room for Rockstars documentary. The film followed the lives of a few performers on the Vans Warped Tour in 2010, and Forever Came Calling played the role of “that band that follows the tour all summer, selling CDs in line and hoping to play one of the gigs near the end of the routing.” It’s not officially credited as such, but you get the point. We see a lot about the band during the hour and forty minutes of the movie – frankly, a lot of personal stuff, including frontman Joe Candelaria having a breakdown at one point – but their story ends nicely, getting to play one of the last dates of the 2010 tour. It showed the band’s persistence and hard work more than anything else, but with the release of its debut full-length on Pure Noise Records, the time has come for the group to make noise in a different way. Contender is going to help Forever Came Calling shake off the label of “the band from that Warped Tour documentary” and become the band that put out one of the best pop-punk records in 2012.
Contender is your typical poppy pop-punk album, its 10 songs only managing to run the course of 24 minutes. The record is flat-out catchy, with life-sized hooks lurking around every corner, and those hooks are something that many people feel have been absent from the new school of the genre. It is, for all intents and purposes, a real harkening to the early-decade New Found Glory pop-punk that many of us grew up on, albeit more poppy. While bringing nothing new to the table in terms of creativity, Contender is a better execution of this style than any record in at least a couple of years; and with the way this genre works, you can’t ask for more than that. If you’re going to listen to one pop-punk record this summer, it should be this one.*
Opener “Learning” and its follow-up “For the Wolves” evaporate in about two minutes total, but Contender hits its stride in the middle of the sequencing. With the three tracks beginning with “The Office” and its sing-out-loud cries of “I’ll kill myself to shock my friends,” and running until “If Bukowski Could See Me Now,” Forever Came Calling delivers three huge choruses in a row. The song sandwiched by those two, “Ides,” is the standout – its refrain of “Just make mistakes because you’ll never be the same again / And I’m not worth your while but what’s your while worth again?” is one of the high points on the album.
Forever Came Calling is at its best when it sticks to its tried-and-true formula, so it’s no surprise that the slower, calmer “I’ll Be Better I Promise” is the only questionable track. That said, the song offers a welcome change of pace and does wonders for the album’s sequencing; it’s just one of those songs better in the mix of things than on its own. We’ve heard “Front Porch Sunrise” before, on FCC’s split with Handguns, but it’s no surprise the fan favorite was re-recorded for this LP.
The two songs that close out the record are solid, but “Contender” stands out as the must-download track from this album. “Contender for everything / From choir boys to thickest thieves,” Candelaria sings on the track over a busy drum kit. You get the feeling of the band having a bit of a chip on its shoulder, and we’ve already seen their do-it-at-all-costs mentality via their Warped Tour story. With a mindset like that and a tendency to write hooks as monstrous as we hear on this album, this band will have no problem making a dent in the ears of many new listeners over the summer.
While Forever Came Calling might have put out an album that isn’t very versatile, Contender breaks the mold in terms of just being more enjoyable than many recent releases in this style. Consider the band a mixed bag of some of the most popular names in pop-punk – Contender is the self-titled album Man Overboard tried to write, but with bouncy, crunchy parts a la Set Your Goals and The Story So Far. Forever Came Calling certainly picked an apt title for its debut LP…they will soon be a heavyweight in the genre.