The Junior Varsity - The Great Compromise (Cover Artwork)

The Junior Varsity

The Great Compromise (2004)


The Junior Varsity is from northern Illinois, and they play a brand of music similar to Armor For Sleep, Keepsake, and Park. While it's nothing genre-shattering, swoon-inducing, or what I like to call "BSD-worthy", it's still a fairly entertaining forty five minutes.

It's gotten to the point where there are a whole slew of other bands that play mid-paced pop-punk numbers with spiraling dual guitars and stop-and-go rhythms, and it's getting harder and harder to really say that which of them, if any, are really great. Yes, The Junior Varsity can play their respective instruments, as evidenced by some nice guitar lines and arrangement in songs like "House Fire" and "Park Your Car". Yes, The Junior Varsity can write songs that are fun to sing along to, like "Falling Far Behind". And yes, The Junior Varsity can churn out the occasional excellence, like the bass-driven "Anti-Climactic", and the lush and soothing "Demo Car City".

What seems to drag down some of these songs is the melody structure of lead vocalist Asa Dawson. While he has a very good voice, it seems like some vocal lines are too akward and simplistic, which ends up smothering promising songs like "The Introduction to the Faint Remembrance".

"The Great Compromise" sounds very good, as Lance Reynolds (NIL8, Alkaline Trio, Braid) keeps things very relaxed (especially on the snare sound), which works out well for the majority of the album. There are some scattered synth parts here and there, which are used pretty tastefully in "The Introduction..." and "Peter Cottontail and the Demise of the Carrot Tree". One other quick note: Tony Peck does a nice job on the drums, with some very inventive fills here and there.

As far as debut albums go, "The Great Compromise" is pretty solid, and definitely worth a listen. I wouldn't be too surprised if a little time leads to better things.