I want to scream about how underrated Forever Came Calling is from the rooftops. The California-based pop punk band’s debut album, Contender, is an album I’ve grown to cherish since it came out in 2012. The music and lyrics of each song, as well as the album as a whole, stood out in a genre full of so much talent. When the band announced they would be releasing their new album, What Matters Most, on October 21st, 2014 through Pure Noise Records, it easily became my most anticipated fall release.
‘August Is Home’ is a great opener, as the track explodes with in your face guitars and complimenting drums. Lines like ‘I’m a ghost that’s feeling haunted with everything’ will definitely be stuck in listeners’ heads after just one listen. If this track does anything, it states that Forever Came Calling is not going anywhere any time soon. The track provides giant verses with meaningful lyrics and a memorable pop punk anthem. The end of ‘August Is Home’ fades perfectly into the previously released ‘Mapping with a Sense of Direction.’ Guitarist Isaac Taylor takes the mic with the anthem-like chorus. Spitfire verses, paired with choice one liners and refined guitar work make this track memorable.
‘Substances’ may be this reviewer’s out of left field song of the year. The intro on this track holds nothing back with its in your face attitude and high energy. Each verse has a bitterness that makes the listener not want to be on vocalist/guitarist Joe Candeleria’s bad side, as he calls out his so called friends on having certain vices. Much like its preceding track, ‘Defenseless’ is kick-started with a guitar driven intro that makes one want to nod your head and casually finger-point. The whole song might as well be as if someone was reading something they wrote in a journal, as it has this calm, yell urgent mood to it. Isaac once again steps up to the plate, delivering the verses with such a narrative finesse. These two tracks are definitely made for a live setting, demanding stage dives and crowd surfing.
Having been released already, ‘Transient (I Don’t Miss)’ is one of the calmer songs of the record. The drums are the highlight, and provide a great backbone for the mid tempo track. Mr. Taylor once again lends his vocals to this track in the choruses and second verse. Transient means impermanence, and you can definitely feel a slight sense of emptiness while listening. ‘Endangered Innocent’ is another song familiar to fans, as it was released on the Forever Came Calling/Family Thief split almost a year ago. The acoustic cut leaves a sense of vulnerability and intimacy. Towards the end of the track, the acoustic guitar changes rhythm, and the slight sense of confusion I felt while listening is replaced with a rush of clarity. ‘Indebted’ is the last of the tracks familiar to listeners, yet I still get excited whenever I hear it. Candeleria gives his strongest vocal performance on this song that was made to be played live. The verses feel like a giant build up to a tidal wave of a giant sounding chorus.
The intro to ‘Rather Be Dead than Cool’ shakes things up just a bit with a slightly gritty guitar and a feeling that Forever Came calling accidentally pressed record before they meant to. Another mid tempo jam, this song talks about what being in a band actually is, from being away from loved ones, to the reality of how hard it is, and even calls out the smugness of others. ‘Spanish Mothers (I Just Miss)’ kick-starts with a really fun intro that makes the song instantly brighten your mood. Isaac Taylor starts the track, with possibly his best vocal performance on the record. Lyrically, the song touches upon Candeleria’s experience dealing with the death of his father. The choir-like vocals in the second half of this song make this song a nice tribute to his beloved.
‘Wish You Well’ sounds like a typical pop punk song done well. It’s fast paced, has pounding drums, crunchy guitars and a certain bitterness. Isaac Taylor takes all lead on this track, spitting out lines like ‘I hope I am too late to save you when you’re lying their choking’. I don’t suggest getting on his bad side. Expect stage dives and lots of pissed off fans screaming in the band’s faces if they ever play this live. Forever Came Calling’s self-proclaimed most ambitious track, ‘Angels in Your Closet’, closes out the record. While musically falling more on the pop side of the spectrum, the lyrical content is nothing short of pop punk – confessional and emotional. Candeleria is vocally at his best, as you can hear him practically pleading with himself and perhaps another person to right his wrongs.
The title of this album is taken from the following Charles Bukowski book title – ‘What Matters Most Is How Well You Walk through the Fire.’ Through this album, Forever Came Calling have been through the ups, downs and realities of life and crafted one great album documenting all of their hardships. Forever Came Calling have made giant strides to become, in my opinion, one of the most important bands today. Their songwriting is some of the best this writer has ever come across. What Matters Most isn’t Contender part two. This record is the story of a band who continues to grow as song writers and musicians. What Matters Most is definitely going to push the band to the forefront of an evergrowing scene.
Catch Forever Came Calling out on the Pure Noise tour now through 11/9/14.