At first listen Challenger seemed to have a fairly generic high energy rock sound, but after the second or third listen Challenger’s wide range of creativity and song writing skills subtlety came forth to create a unique blend of punk, pop, and noise rock sounds.
Challenger is not the type of band to be pinned down to one sound and this keeps the album sounding fresh and interesting through out. Songs like “Death Museum” delve into keyboard sounds for a lead instrument, while other songs like “Sweet Vaccine” have awkward sounding riffs that exhibit Challenger’s ability to tie noise rock guitar work effortlessly into upbeat songs, and songs like “Crushed City” and “The Trojan Horse” exhibit an uncanny ability to write pop guitar hooks.
The music is not the only element of Challenger that demonstrates their creativity and diversity. The style of vocal delivery is experimental and the lyrical content is intelligent without being overly wordy or confusingly symbolic.
While neither of the two vocalists have amazing voices in a traditional sense they find a wide array of ways to make use of what they do have. Songs like “Input the Output” and “The Angry Engineer” exhibit the raw, screamy side of the vocals, while songs like “Crushed City” and “The Trojan Horse” demonstrate the well crafted pop and backing vocal talents of the band. Challenger also find interesting ways to use their voices such as the high pitched pitter patter sound of the vocals on “Blackouts” and the dialogue style of vocals between male and female voices on, “Brand Loyalty.”
When the vocals cry out, “I’m agoraphobic (don’t worry they give you a definition in the linear notes) to the bone/ anxiety pipe bomb of worthless steel and fading charm,” on the opening track of the album you know you are in store for quality lyrical content instead of pop punk clichés and forced rhymes. The lyrics are introspective and witty without being abstract. Lines such as “We’re so sad and self satisfied when talking amongst ourselves about the way things ought to be/ but the reality is we’ve got to too much time on our hands to handle the amount of time our hands are dangling by our sides,” and “You’re always looking for somebody to hold you/ you’re always looking for somebody to trust you/ you’re always looking for somebody to tell you/ hey, it’s all right if you want to spend the night,” drip with irony while lines such as “Hey man, it’s not about the money/ it’s about getting what you deserve,” exude a sense of raw, smack in the face, truth.
Challenger is a band for anyone who enjoys hearing an album where every song has something new to offer, yet there is an underlying component that solidifies the whole release. In Challenger’s case this cohesive element is their energy. The music is fast paced and heavy and the vocals are never subdued.