It’s safe to say more than a few expected The Cab to capsize long before we ever heard a second full-length. Countless bands have fallen away from far less troubles than this group faced in the 1200 days between their albums. Against all odds, the boys from Vegas reemerged with a new disc of gorgeous pop tunes entitled Symphony Soldier, courtesy the emergence of vocalist Alex DeLeon as a legitimate star.
Assessing the new album requires both a look at the past and current incarnations of The Cab. With their debut Whisper War, the three-headed beast of DeLeon, guitar virtuoso Ian Crawford and pianist Alex Marshall channeled enough influences to dizzy music historians with genre-crossing tracks. At times, the aforementioned record felt like it belonged amongst N*SYNC and Backstreet Boys more than Panic! At The Disco or Fall Out Boy, ironically a result of FOB vocalist Patrick Stump’s production work. Though a solid release, Whisper War didn’t receive the commercial success it seemed to be created for, bringing the band into quieter times that should have spelled their demise. A three-year tail spin followed, including several personnel changes, the loss of Crawford, and a weak remix EP that convinced no one The Cab would stick around.
Here is where the hero story begins. DeLeon became the defacto leader, keeping the ship afloat through Warped Tour 2010 and an ugly departure from Fueled By Ramen/Decaydance. Free from label limbo, the band self-released Symphony Soldier with a new sound that bet on DeLeon’s ability to star on his own. The gamble paid off.
Every song on the 12-track album relies heavily on the vocal melodies to impress, a challenge that is consistently met.
On lead single “Bad” (embedded above), the vibe rides between newer Hanson and late Michael Jackson overtop catchy piano from Marshall. You aren’t crazy for hearing Bruno Mars in “Endlessly;” the singer co-wrote the track. The energy that drives “Intoxicated” and “Her Love Is My Religion” sure seem like enough for some Top 40 airplay and should expand The Cab’s audience to the mainstream crowd the band seemed built for.
While I can’t sing DeLeon’s praises enough, the secret weapon comes from the liner notes: John Feldmann. Earlier this year, the producer took the similarly short-handed P!ATD and helped craft their colossal third album, Vices & Virtues. Feldmann’s scene wizardry shines through here, once again catapulting a band back into conversations. Helping along musically is Marshall, who performs will with the double-duties of guitar and piano this time around. A nice touch in the background are some solid lead guitar lines, courtesy of the surprising return of Crawford in a recording-only role.
In true Nowitzki fashion, Alex DeLeon took a team no one believed in and produced something incredible. Symphony Soldier wasn’t on anyone’s pop radars this year, but the album is undeniably a contender for the genre’s best. Pick up the album on the band’s Facebook store or iTunes.