In anticipation of their upcoming full length effort, Pittsburgh natives Run Forever have released Big Vacation, a three-track EP that serves to whet listeners’ appetites for more of the band’s unique brand of relaxed, emo-tinged indie rock. The three songs included on the EP mark a different sonic direction for the band, and even though the changes are slight at their most dramatic, the differences between Big Vacation and Run Forever’s older work are not only noticeable, but pleasing to hear.
What kind of differences, you ask? First and foremost, it seems as though the band is experimenting with tone as far as the instrumentation goes. When looked at in comparison to their recent releases, the guitars feel softer, the drums less in-your-face, and the vocals lower in the mix. Furthermore, to accompany this laid-back approach to their sound, the vocal delivery and lyrical content has been taken down a notch, as well. This isn’t to say that the record sounds anything close to complacent, but instead favors depressed, sulking discontent over sheer energy and anger.
Wistfulness plays a huge role as well in the thematic makeup of the EP. The title track, which also serves as the opener, sounds fed up in the most reluctant-to-act way, almost like someone who has been worn out from years of fighting back against their problems. Conversations are observed almost from a third person point-of-view, events and people are treated with quiet, almost lazy resentment – all backed up by a plodding, viscous instrumental.
The whole attitude of the track adds up to something we haven’t previously seen from the band, but this isn’t a bad thing by any means. In fact, “maturity” is one of the words that comes to mind when contemplating the evolution of Run Forever’s sound, and after several years of prototypical punk restlessness, it’s a welcome idea. While the concept of maturing into a sound that can be more accurately described as “emo” doesn’t make much sense on paper, it can definitely be heard throughout all of Big Vacation – the band didn’t become melodramatic in the slightest, just more in touch with themselves.
In terms of being a satisfying listen for more seasoned Run Forever fans, Big Vacation’s popularity may be determined by how willing those fans are to accept change. In terms of being an objectively good EP, though, it definitely delivers in almost every department, and while not anything particularly revolutionary or genre-defining, there is something to be said for the band’s command of both their newly-updated sound as well as their lyrical content. A well-rounded collection of songs, through and through.