I'd be lying if I said I shared the same admiration the Cardinal Sin was receiving upon the release of their debut EP, Oil and Water, last year. Any time I tried listening to the songs I was confronted with a nü-emo, whiny, homogenized version of Goddamnit-era Alkaline Trio. That's not the type of "revitalization" I would come to expect when taking such a significant influence from such a record.
Hurry Up and Wait has rectified these problems wonderfully. The Cardinal Sin sound more honest and rock-based, combining these newer traits with a raw, fresh approach to the style, all the while writing songs that are catchy and full of sing-along ushering. While they're certainly continuing to draw blood from the Trio's Asian Man era, they seem to reflect the musically upbeat moods and bold choruses of the band's Vagrant era, turning in an energetic, creative hybrid on their debut full-length, with sure hints of Smoking Popes' modest melodies.
The strong first track "Eye-Opener" instantly makes an impression with a more mid-tempo chorus compared to any of its other accompanying tracks and a line repeated enough just to sick but minimized to avoid nausea. It's also our first impression of guitarist / lead singer James Russell, whose sincere, off-key voice takes qualities from both Matt Skiba's early days and from his Minneapolis brethren Justin Pierre of Motion City Soundtrack. Its immediate follower, "Under Your Skin" features a spectacularly crunchy guitar lead, the first of many the band throws down throughout the course of Hurry Up that are woefully compelling and thankfully varied. "Skin" in particular is rather urgent, and the band seems especially effective in this gear; "Keep You Guessing" fits this description as well, slowing down briefly for its chorus involving drummer Becky Hanten's left-right fills, with a subtle cameo from the Lawrence Arms' Brendan Kelly coming in at the end. A solid second half features "He's a Space Case," which out of any of the tracks here could easily be a single; it's one of the slower, more desperate songs, but it's got the requisite hook and a buddy guitar riff tagging along that works quite well.
Seriously improved and quarterbacking a rigid songwriting ability, the Cardinal Sin are possibly the best band following in the Alkaline Trio's footsteps yet. I can't wait to see what happens if and when they choose to step off the trail and make their own imprints.
Light Years Behind
Good for Nothing