Speaker Speaker - Call It Off (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Speaker Speaker

Call It Off (2008)

Burning Building

Seattle's Speaker Speaker pick it up a little bit with their debut full-length, Call It Off. While a bit straightforward, Call It Off is a fun number that's reminiscent of a more pop-punk version of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists circa Shake the Sheets (especially thanks to the voice of singer/guitarist Colin McBride), or the Thermals' more energetic days.

Speaker Speaker tend to operate on one, albeit multi-faceted tactic: upbeat, and uptempo. Granted, this is filtered through some good and varied structures and slightly altered moods. Thus, all of the songs on Call It Off are fairly distinguishable and make for sure standouts: Songs like the title track find the band driving and excited, while "Radio Days" seems like the band's half-accomplished attempt at updating Elvis Costello's "Radio" for the new century. "I Was Wrong" and "Pick Me Up" offer back-to-back batches of pure, college radio-friendly hooks that keep you paying attention and, at worst, nodding along.

The brash "We Won't March" makes a re-appearance from its position as the title track of the band's 2007 EP, here as a perfectly paced midpoint. Elsewhere in the second half, "Turnout" sort of bums me out because it sounds like the song is cut off a second or two early, and it abruptly shifts into the equally rambunctious "Got Away." I don't know if it was intentional or just a total engineering flop, but it sort of hurts the album's momentum. Luckily, the last few songs here are good enough to just about make up for it.

J. Robbins was even roped in for production here, and his is a ragged, well-done flair. Speaker Speaker would probably border on annoying with super glossy production, so Robbins did a superb job otherwise toning them down a bit.

Call It Off is as solid a debut as they come. I'm not entirely sure what Speaker Speaker are referring to in their title, but hopefully it's not their career as its start is pretty promising.

Call It Off