Broadway Calls - Comfort/Distraction (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Broadway Calls

Comfort/Distraction (2013)

No Sleep

Broadway Calls sound like lifelong students of pop-punk on their latest album, Comfort/Distraction.

Three albums in and the band sound like it knows its genre inside-out, allowing the songwriting to move in somewhat progressive directions for what can often be a very straightforward style. Not many bands could pull off the chugging guitar lines on "Minus One" and "Open Letter" while still maintaining their genre's core. Ditto for the stabbing dissonance of "Zombie World" and the classic-rock swing of "I'll Be There." More bands should take these kinds of chances.

Unfortunately, the lyrical content isn't as daring. Themes of death and coming destruction run throughout the album, so much so that the record is either a semi-concept album about many apocalypses occurring all at once or it's a giant metaphor for growth and loss, but in either case the lyrics are too shallow to have much impact.

Produced by Descendents drummer Bill Stevenson, the album's sound leans heavily on the "pop" side of the pop-punk equation, and while the final product is catchy and hook-heavy, it works too hard to be a pop record. Its slick production robs tracks like "Minus One, "Zombie World" and "Wildly Singing" of their energy and replaces it with a radio-ready gloss. The album's best songs, "Bring on the Storm" and "Stealing Sailboats" are able to strike a balance between the group's pop instincts and the Midwestern-meets-SoCal strum-punk at its core, but too much of the album seems rounded off and smoothed over.

Comfort/Distraction is a good album that shows off how well Broadway Calls understand how to make pop-punk, but it's hard to shake the feeling that the band are pulling its punches in the name of wider appeal.