With their sixth release, the boys in Transit are growing up. The mostly acoustic EP, Something Left Behind, features the Boston, Mass. pop/punk band revisiting five songs from their previous releases and reworking them acoustically. These new versions contain the same passion and DIY-approach that their electric counterparts possessed, only with more delicate instrumentation and a larger focus on the three-headed vocal attack of lead singer Joe Boynton, lead guitarist/backing vocalist Tim Landers and rhythm guitarist/backing vocalist Joe Lacy. The four new songs, two of which are acoustic, show growth for the band and a progression that could possibly take them out of the pop/punk genre.
The album opens up with a new track, “Indoor Voices,” which sounds more similar to “Jesus” from Brand New’s The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me than any other song in Transit’s discography. The intro guitar riff bears resemblance to the lead guitar in “Jesus.” As Boyton sings in the end, “Take me away, to give me all the attention, the attention that we all crave,” it sounds like he is emoting in a way very similar to Jesse Lacey of Brand New. Boynton’s more somber vocals here, along with the guitar playing of Landers and Lacy, show that while the band’s lyrics have always been mature, the singing and instrumentation may be growing as well. Also notable is the drumming by Daniel Frazier, which is distorted to the point of sounding explosive. If people ask for a track to show them by Transit, “Indoor Voices” is the one to show.
“Please Head North,” which was first recorded on the band’s split with Man Overboard, and later re-recorded on their full length Keep This to Yourself, is certainly one of the band’s best-known songs and its acoustic treatment makes the song exponentially better. While the original was fast, fun and catchy, the reworked version benefits from Boynton’s great vocals, which sound better here than they ever have in the past. The dual guitar work of Landers and Lacy also complement each other greatly. It’s nice to see that on an acoustic take, the gruff backing vocals from Landers are not tamed and are allowed to contrast with the soft instrumentation. Lacy also performs admirably, with his backing vocals being the gentlest of the three singers.
The acoustic version of “For the World,” which was originally found on their full length This Will Not Define Us, shows that the band can play their songs just as fast acoustically and electrically without sacrificing the quality. The electric versions of all these songs are known for being anthemic pop/punk sing-alongs, and the acoustic versions maintain the same attribute. The tri-vocal harmonies at the end are one of the highlights of the album.
“Just Go, Just Leave” follows and it’s one of the newly recorded songs. Unlike “Indoor Voices,” which sounds electric, this is abundantly acoustic. The guitar work and the drumming in this song are subdued beneath the vocals but still manage to carry their own weight. Transit has always stood out amongst the masses of pop/punk for their ability to stretch the foundations of songs past typical power chords and the trend continues here. Now that they have signed to Rise Records, one can only hope that their upcoming full length, being recorded now, will forge ahead and not sacrifice anything to the notorious label.
“Stay Home,” which rivals “Please Head North” as the band’s biggest song, features the biggest change in instrumentation here. The shouting is reigned in and shows the band as very capable singers as well as shouters. The guitar work also features more hammer-ons and harmonics than the original. While some fans will always prefer the original, it would be no major surprise if fans were to say the acoustic version of “Stay Home” is their favorite song by the band. While some bands that have done acoustic EPs seem to think acoustic means more subdued, Transit shatters this notion as the ending of the song contains the same passion as the original. When Boynton and Lacy sing “There’s reason why, I’ve made it this far without you. You had your shot, this one’s mine. I’m taking aim, to pull the trigger,” the emotion in their voices is palpable.
The album ends with back-to-back newly recorded tracks, the acoustic title track and the full-band “1978.” While it doesn’t possess the same progression towards indie-rock that the opener does, it certainly is miles ahead of most pop/punk being pushed out these days. The twin guitar attack is much more advanced than nearly any other band in the genre. The fact that, at his young age, Boynton possesses one of the best voices and writing abilities of anyone in the genre shows that while many of the lesser bands in the genre might die away, Transit has the potential to continue on for ages.
Despite the fact that half of Something Left Behind is comprised of acoustic reworkings of past tracks, Transit manages to progress forward in sound and maturity. The new tracks show hints at the direction the band may take with their upcoming full length and the anticipation is budding for what could be one of the best releases in 2011.