WORDS: Laura McCarthy
It’s always hard coming to a scene like pop punk/ rock that has so many obvious characteristics to its sound as a genre. Often it can feel like many other bands before have covered all that can be done. Four piece from Leeds, THIS CITY LIMITS’ first release Here’s To Hoping offers itself as the latest EP in this hugely popular genre of music.
Thief opens as something of a nice surprise. The riff is very catchy and the cool-as intro has you pricking your ears up. This is a decent track for sure, and it’s good to hear some flexibility within a sound. There are definite echoes of RISE AGAINST as a big influence to this band, and there are worse bands to model yourself on. Indeed, the opening track is a good showcase for what might come. However, Too Scared To Swim is a little poppier than expected, and it’s not the strongest effort in the way of originality. Those looking for chanting choruses and singing guitars over bright drums and a flowing bassline should be satisfied with this track. The formula of pop punk is steadily followed here- the breakdown to slightly distorted vocals, the sudden build up in the final minute of the track.
Those looking for older YOU ME AT SIX or BRAND NEW parallels will not be overly displeased with what’s on offer here. However, while there are definite similarities to these bands, there is something lacking in the melodies of this EP. Each song is too much by the book. Sure, all the right marks are hit, but it just feels like going through the motions; it’s hard to imagine getting excited or riled up for any of these songs. As Runaway civilly twiddles its way into your ears, the lack of conviction or aggression in the vocals or the playing becomes more apparent. Saltwater is slightly more interesting, with each instrument having a touch more room to move more naturally than the previous tracks. The guitar solo is good fun, and it’s just a shame that the previous two songs were missing what the opener did so well, and it’s taken two fairly average offerings to get to this.
Finally, So This Is Home rings in with a little more truth and sincerity than all the previous tracks. With a change of pace throughout, there is more complexity to all areas- the drumming comes alive, the bass and guitars dancing around different tempos to create a good soundscape. As well as this, the vocals have more range, and lyrically it’s very relatable. Despite all this, however, by this part of the EP it feels like it could all be too little, too late.
Overall, there’s not much to complain about, but not much to get excited about either. Each of the collective of THIS CITY LIMITS comes across as good in their own right, but unwilling to push their boundaries. The band sacrifices any true originality in order to fit a convention. Sometimes it is better to get something wrong and try something different than to simply get things right and live within the lines. It is only this first and final tracks that adds real vigour to the EP, and unfortunately it might not be enough to make this band memorable. Sure, Here’s To Hoping is a fair effort for a first EP, and there are some nice elements, but there is definitely a long way to go. There needs to be some more bite or more soul in the makeup of THIS CITY LIMITS. The pop punk/ rock genre has literally heard it all before, and the EP name ironically does have you hoping that as THIS CITY LIMITS grows, there might be a bit more to chew on.
Here’s To Hoping will be released on 13th November