Only Way Back - A Voice to Speak (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Only Way Back

A Voice to Speak (2008)


Only Way Back's approach to pop-punk is a homage to the early 2000s, when bands like Bowling for Soup (pre-"1985"), Homegrown and Slick Shoes were riding on the coattails of Epitaph skatepunk and vastly overshadowed by the blossoming mainstream success of Blink-182, New Found Glory and even Sum 41. I got into punk music around this time (2002-2003), so, admittedly, Only Way Back's A Voice to Speak hits a personal bias and truly deserving of some nostalgia points.

Unfortunately with their influence's predestined dependency on predictability and clichés, Only Way Back's sound is slightly redundant and beckons some déjà vu; from the Blink-182-"Carousel"-esque guitar break in the aptly titled "Song #1" to the token acoustic strummed intro of "Pushed Away," everything just reminds me of a subpar attempt at another band's style. And, which I will deny is any coincidence, the vocalist even has a ballsier tone much like Bigwig -- not only do they thank them in the liner notes, but Tom Petta is featured as a guest on the song "The Congregation." Really, with some banal riffs and amateurish tendencies, there's very little originality going on here.

That's not to say that lacking in originality is at all a bad thing. The 14 tracks are energetic and easy to sing along to. "The Congregation" has some nice "oh"s and "ah"s layering and the guitar is tight and crunchy. "These Walls" and "Left Behind" offer some dynamics with its clean, smoothly executed picking with the vocalist displaying a good range, and knowing when to raise his volume at all the climactic parts.

Simplicity and unoriginality is often what's most endearing about these kinds of bands and it makes for a fun but safe listen. So take my soft spot for what it is, but if you're comforted by the friendly feeling of familiarity, A Voice to Speak may offer some solid and catchy tunes to your summer rotation.