I Call Fives - First Things First (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

I Call Fives

First Things First (2008)

Open Your Eyes

My main contention with this newer era of New Found Glory-influenced pop-punk bands actually tends to lie, more than anything, in the vocalists. It seems like a singer is really just making or breaking it for me. I love Set Your Goals' dual style but I can't stand Fireworks' poor Jordan Pundik impression. Title Fight's got a great dynamic approach but This Time Next Year's overproduced front bums me out. I Call Fives lie somewhere in the middle.

They fit this group incredibly well, as their First Things First EP sounds like Cartel's first EP sent five years forward through the time of bands like All Time Low and the Maine. The production is absolutely sparkling -- courtesy of Valencia Recording Studio (All Time Low) -- but the execution is modest enough to avoid being overbearing. The lyrics certainly aren't brilliant, but there's bits of creativity in here, like the subtle tempo changes in "My Last Mistake" and "Coast to Coast." The gang shouts are minimal and actually pretty tasteful when applied.

Their vocalist does have a very questionable delivery, though. There's a level of nasality that just misses being too much and I can't tell if it's simply sweet or saccharine. If you were holding a gun to my head, I...might lean towards the former. Struggles like this tend to be present in the lyrics, too. "This Song Is So...2006" seems almost like a heavily veiled straight-edge anthem, led by a chorus that seems like it's trying to teach a lesson through mindless wordplay I'd expect from Forever the Sickest Kids or something: "We won't stop stop to this beat we're pumpin' / We rock 'til we drop / We won't stop we've got it / Hard hard as the drugs you're poppin' / The easiest way to escape from the world / Turn up your radio just let go / A simple equation none of us know / How do we get to the core of your heart / How do we get to the top."

All in all, I'm not quite sure what to think, but there's enough memorable moments here to dignify First Things First as ever-so-slightly above average. I Call Fives need a lot of work to avoid sounding like their more popular hair-in-the-face sweet promo shot ringleaders, but I think they can do it.

Ready to Go
My Last Mistake
Coast to Coast
Twelve Credits Short

Running in Circles
This Song Is So...2006