People on Vacation is the surprising joint-venture between Jarret Reddick of Bowling for Soup, and Ryan Hamilton of Smile, Smile. The pop-rock duo formed shortly after Smile, Smile opened for Bowling for Soup, and Reddick and Hamilton began jamming together. What ensured was a speedy flood of infectious power pop-rock ballads with the release of their debut album The Summer and the Fall. The success of that album prompted People on Vacation to work on a follow-up sophomore album, and the end result is The Chronicles of Tim Powers.
The Chronicles of Tim Powers meets all the clichés of power pop-rock. Cheesy and romantic love ballads and catchy and soppy love songs dominate the album, while the traditional sad song about an ex-girlfriend makes its appearance in the form of “The Girl I Used to Love”. However, despite the blatant flaunting of truly terrible clichés, People On Vacation have still created an incredibly enjoyable album.
Think of the album like any other pop punk album, except a lot happier and less angry at their fathers. People On Vacation stole the basic catchy premise of pop punk, and then moulded it into a pop rock sound that is actually remotely original and enjoyable. Sharp, punchy guitar riffs course through the album and are tempered by delicate chords from acoustic guitars. A furious upbeat drum section amalgamates the combined influences of Reddick and Hamilton to create a sound that can only be described as indie pop-punk. Reddick’s distinctively raw vocals contrast Hamilton’s much higher pitched and less abrasive vocals, which makes the trade-offs strongly contrast one another.
Edgier songs like “Don’t Ask the Question” showcase the pop-punk influence from Jarret Reddick, while “Punk Rock World” leans to the indie rock influences that Hamilton brings to the table. This allows People On Vacation to do something unique within the pop rock genre, and create a variation of pop rock that is in-fact quite unique. It is not often that blasts of pop punk riffs are given a Texan twang and then backed up by a string quartet and back-up singers from any adaption of Grease ever, as heard in “We Shoulda Made It”.
It would be too much to ask for People On Vacation to write deeply introspective lyrics. Most the album is tongue-in-cheek writing about what it used to be like to be young and in-love. They display a level of emotionally maturity in “The Girl I Used to Love” as they dig deep into an old scar that was left by a break-up. For the most part, People On Vacation rely on indie rock charm and pop punk catchiness to grab their audience, and they do a pretty good job of it.