Chances are the only time the noun ‘July’ is relevant is when it actually is that month. What’s not to love, though? Warm weather. No school. Vacations. Oh yeah, and North America’s biggest traveling circus known as the Vans Warped Tour is in full swing as its way around the United States and parts of Canada. However, when July ends, there is usually that slightly daunting realization that the summer is winding down and school will be here before you know it. Most people just want to relive those days over and over again. Those nights are filled with party anthems and Brampton, Ontario’s July’s debut album What We Signed Up For will keep that summer party going all year long.
Freshly signed to independent label TDR Records, July wasted no time in announcing their debut album. The foursome have cooked up 11 songs to appeal to your pop punk palette. What We Signed Up For starts off with a high-energy one-two punch with the first two tracks. ‘Intro,’ is a brief, simple song with slight layers of vocals that sets up the latter. The instruments that kick in at the end of ‘Intro’ flow perfectly into the start of the title track. Vocalist Devin Moody delivers the first verse relatively softly while still being smooth and confident in his words. As the song progresses, he becomes more hard-hitting with every line that passes, yet maintains that confidence. The prevalent drums provided by Sam Guaiana serve as a great backbone throughout the song, and compliment the bass lines and guitar work quite nicely. Lyrically, the song is about realizing that being in a band is the only thing that makes sense to July, even when they know how much they have to sacrifice for their dreams.
So after working hard to be in a band and make your dreams come true, what comes next? Logically, touring would be the correct answer. ‘West Coast Pimpin’, the album’s third track is about just that. July get a little creative during the song, going from fast paced drums and crunchy guitars to the inclusion of a synth and everything in between.
‘Right Here for You’ sounds like it has the potential to be a radio single, leaning more towards pop-rock with it’s relatively slower tempo than the previous tracks. It’s a modest song about two people trying to reignite a spark between them while both of them are skeptic about what could happen.
‘Secret Is a Sleazy Word’ may be one of the shortest tracks on the album, but don’t let the length be deceiving. The 1 minute and 10 second song packs a punch with a bass intro setting up for what is the fastest-paced song on the album. Dropping a little profanity, Moody wastes no time in calling out girls who thinks they can screw people over and act like nothing happen.
Back to back high energy tracks that flow well together are hard to find, but July follows up ‘Secret’ with track six, ‘Dance, Shuffle, Move Your Feet.’ The track brings a different kind of high energy, trading fast paced drums for catchy and crunchy guitar lines. The song itself is about being in a relationship and how when it’s all over, one can look back and be proud of how far the two have come.
The only other instrumental track on the album, ‘Counting Ducks’ falls on the more mellow side. It’s on this track where the drums and guitars really shine. The riffs provided by Andrew Falcao along with Guaiana’s drumming are a highlight of the whole album. This song could have easily been longer; however, the brevity of this song is what makes it so great.
Another track with fast paced drumming, ‘Eight Nine Eight’ is an easy listen to for pop-punk and pop-rock fans. The track finds the band straddling that thin line between those two genres. The laid back guitars and bass provide nice contrast between the aforementioned drumming. The breakdown and gang vocals definitely give the track about girls who just can’t seem to break up with someone in a nice way an edge. ‘Second Best’ falls more onto the pop-rock side as Moody talks about not feeling the like most important thing or person in another’s life no matter how much he or she tries to include you.
The appropriately named ‘To All the Kids’ is definitely the most pop punk-influenced track on the album. It’s nothing short of a typical song from that genre of music that talks about the band being grateful for all the support and hard work the foursome have put into their dream. It is a solid track; however, the intro of the song is extremely different from what listeners have previously heard and may catch some off guard.
Closing track ‘Collapse,’ happens to also be the only ballad on the album. It’s on this track that Moody really shines, as for the most of the song, he is accompanied by only an acoustic guitar. His vocals are so smooth on this song about being on the road a lot and letting a loved one know that they never leave your mind and you would drop everything for them. At the same time, he wonders if they feel the same way about him. This track is another highlight on the album, as the band kicks in perfectly with an instrumental that carries the same wishful thinking mood that was prevalent throughout the song.
Overall, What We Signed Up For is a modest collection of eleven songs that find the band with a bright future in front of them. July’s debut album is an easy to listen to pop-rock/pop-punk record similar to assorted releases from We Are the in Crowd, Hit the Lights, State Champs, and I Call Fives. There is no doubt that July is an up-and-coming band on the verge of blowing up.
Rating: 6.5 slices out of 8