Broadway Calls - Sad In The City (Cover Artwork)

Broadway Calls

Sad In The City (2020)

Red Scare Industries

Grownup pop-punk is hard to do right. In a genre that has always exuded youthful exuberance, it’s a fine line between being a big mouth and having something worthwhile to say when you find yourself in late young adulthood encroaching on early middle age denial dusting off the Stratocaster and putting those feelings to three chords. Apocalyptic in its own right. However, Broadway Calls did it right with Sad In the City. This album is an endearingly earnest attempt to make sense of it all during an apocalyptic future. And fortunate for Broadway Calls, no better time to dust off that Stratocaster and relive the good views than when said scenario plays out in real time.

Broadway Calls are the weirdest they have ever been on Sad In the City. While still firmly rooted in their left-coast meets midwest pop-punk sound, there are moments of studio experimentation and three-chord departures that add a standout layer to the band’s core - think The Copyright’s North Sentinel Island and see “Always on the Run.” Producer Scott Goodrich's previous experience with bands like Culture Abuse and Direct Hit! help ease the band into these choices by amping up the low end and restraining the guitars with a layer of power-pop fuzz when called for. The drums sound huge as fuck thundering over clever bass lines that are punching above their weight throughout the album.

Sad In the City has Broadway Calls addressing impending apocalypse with just a little too much precision. The alternative rock vibe in “Radiophobia” has vocalist Ty Vaughn singing, “Gas in a bottle / Block off the streets / Ski mask on / Hot summer day.” It would be forgiven to assume this album was written during the coronavirus shutdown and ensuing uprising, but recording wrapped in December. The lyrics speak to the dread that has hung over the country regarding the bottom’s very likely fallout. The album begins with “Never Take Us Alive” welcoming you to this new reality. Vaughn asks, “If my country collapses / Can I crash on your couch? / Think I’m hyperbolic?” before dead panning, “Wish I was fucking around.”

The highs even when destructive will see us through and that’s true with Sad In the City in spite of its name. Interspersed between scenes of life on the run in shoes covered in a rich man’s blood are moments captured reminding you what you’re running towards. The most straightforward pop-punk on the album in “Take Me Down” pleads in celebratory fashion to go down together if we aren’t making it home, while “Meet Me on The Moon” celebrates wine and intoxication after making it there. It’s too little, too late as the following track and acoustic underpinned album closer “Went Dyin’” wrestles with intentional self-destruction in the glow of gloomy cable news while chalking it up to bad luck and the impossibility of how sad the end is.

Sad In the City is filled with simple, anthemic choruses brimming with smart production that has this record facing impending doom with enjoyable assuredness in its certainty. If the end is nigh and there’s nothing we can do about it, then belting out a pop-punk album this strong is quite the final statement of youthful fuck you to the sadness of it all. Even if it's delivered as tactfully as a grownup can deliver such a sentiment.