EP Review: The Departure – Gateways

The Departure - Gateways

As if a middle-aged Blink-182 releasing an album this year wasn’t strange enough, it does seem as if pop-punk is set to make another resurgence. While it’s a sound, like disco, I associate with very specific era, a band like The Departure appear to be enthusiastic on proving there’s a greater potential in pop-punk than was thought of the first time around.

Calling The Departure pop-punk isn’t really accurate. To be fair, their Gateways EP sounds like an attempt to meld that and post-hardcore with as many other styles as they can. Symphonic metal and prog are notably woven into each of the seven tracks. More times often than not, The Departure sounds like Blink-182 or Sum 41 if they had listened to nothing but Dream Theater for a decade. The result is about as awkward as it sounds. The Departure have a fair grasp of songwriting and performance, but they don’t stand out enough in any respect to sell their farfetched concept.

“For the Best” makes the awkwardness clear from the onset. While the band generally sounds like they’re aping heyday Blink-182 (with all the adolescent whine it entails) there are synthesizers and relatively techy riffs to clash with pop expectations. While this could have had the effect of fleshing it out, the combination here just doesn’t work. Where good pop-punk is fast and spontaneous, the attempts at sophistication draw it out, stifling the effect at either end of their fusion.

While it’s plenty well-intentioned, Gateways feels like a handful of experiments that all went wrong. The apparent ambition and variety collapses in on itself. The Departure have aspirations of being a higherbrow alternative to typical pop and post-hardcore acts. Maybe the fusion could work; they just fall short of it here. This isn’t a condemnation of the band either– I’ve heard the material they put out before this, where it sounded like they had a much firmer grip of their sound. All the same, The Departure should probably revise or refocus their sound by the time of their next record.

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