I’ve always been a big supporter of bands creating their own sound. It helps the band write, as they have a certain voice that informs how a song should flow and what works inside that context. It also helps the listener. How many times have you been driving down the street, and within a couple notes on the radio, you can say without question “That’s Dire Straits!” or “That’s Weezer!” I think that The Welcome, on EP number 5, Supermoon, have solidly provided this convenience to themselves and others.
There’s a flip side to that, of course, which is you make all your songs fit into that particular voice, and they grow a bit tired. For the writer and the listener. Luckily, some new blood has been added to The Welcome, providing a nice jolt of energy that was lacking from the last release. Sarah Johnson co-wrote one song, so it seems the band is open to experimenting with new things. Does that optimism pay off?
For the most part, yes. The whole EP feels a bit more grown up than the others that preceded it, which is a very welcome step forward. There’s also less “Ben Gibbard” in Gehring’s voice, which was one of my biggest problems thus far. The songwriting has also taken a leap for the better, you can hear it in track 2, “Hemingway:”
I, myself, in the mornings find it different
My body’s young, but my eyes are aging swiftly
See, I have these lines
It may work better in the context of the song, but I find the lyrics compelling and easy to relate to.
The third track, “Krazy,” is the one co-written by Johnson who also sings on the track. This is probably the best song of the bunch. It’s a relationship back and forth with Gehring and Sarah taking turns accusing and explaining to eachother. If you like songs like “You Don’t Know Me” by Ben Folds and Regina Spektor (or “Get Out Of My House” by The Streets), then you’ll enjoy this. Rather than the usual take on boy-girl vocals where it’s all harmonies and ooh’s and aah’s, this one has the two bickering about normal couple stuff. There is some funny stuff in there as well, and in the end it’s a love song about how people go crazy over little things when they’re in love.
The final song, “Goodnight, Goodnight” is another fine song, but I do take issue with one thing about it; and really it isn’t a problem with the song itself so much as a problem with the series of EP’s as a whole (minus the R Kelly covers). Every EP ends with a lullaby-ish song, which is fine I suppose, if that’s something that you’re trying for. My feeling is that with a shorter release like an EP, you want to keep the people actively listening. Now, I like the song. It’s a beautiful love song about living a lifetime together (and further). I just can’t stand behind ending every EP like this.
Still, I find myself returning to each EP time and time again, because there are some wonderful moments in each one. With the new additions to the band, we’ll see if they can create something that goes beyond what they’ve done so far, and unleash the potential I know is lurking under the surface.
As with the other EP’s in the series, Supermoon is available as a free download on The Welcome’s Bandcamp page.