This should’ve been Transit’s moment. The Boston, Massachusetts pop-punk quintet had everything in their sights to become one of the genre’s greatest up-and-coming acts. Their former releases highlighted that the band was capable of rough/aggressive emo (2010’s Keep This to Yourself) and breezy/melodic alternative (2011’s Listen & Forgive). With their versatility shown, the band picked fans up left and right, appearing on bills with everyone from A Day to Remember to The Wonder Years. Their name has quickly become well-known to the fans of their genre. All was set for Transit to release their biggest album yet. Unfortunately, however, their latest LP Young New England falls flat. Though the record isn’t without a few shining moments, everything on Young New England adds up to be an unexpected regression for the band.
The album kicks off on a high note with the appropriately upbeat “Nothing Lasts Forever,” a track you may remember me praising when the band released it back in February as the leadoff single for the record. It starts the album off on a good note, combining the appropriately muddied production of KTTY with the experimental style of Listen & Forgive. All signs pointed that Young New England would be another step forward for the act. Alas, “Nothing Lasts Forever” is only 2:42 worth of the record’s 45-minute run time. Immediately after the song is finished, the flaws that inhabit Young New England start to bubble towards the surface.
A lot of the album’s problems tend to come from one of three major flaws; each individual song suffers either from: lackluster production, misfires in creativity, or an absence of overall memorability. While these qualities aren’t always the answer for why a track does/doesn’t work on the record, it’s most often one of these three reasons.
Poor production value plagues a number of tracks on Young New England. One that jumped out at me initially was “Weathered Souls.” Somewhere deep down below the out-of-tune guitars and its unorganized mixing could’ve been one of the best songs the band has ever made. The same goes for “Hazy.” There’s an excellent experimentation seen through its slow, laid-back tempo, but the smothering production rips any kind of redeemability out of it.
Next, it’s clear that the band wanted to try some things new with this record. And honestly, who’s to blame them? Transit has been known for switching up their sound in little increments with each record they produce…and up until now the success rate has been extremely high. Young New England is hit-and-miss when it comes to establishing unique touches into its material. “Summer, ME,” for example, is destined to be a summer classic for the band’s fan base. With a similar key and dance-worthy tempo, the track comes off as a distant cousin to Bruno Mars‘ “Locked Out of Heaven” in a lot of ways. Here we see a lot of Joe Boynton’s effective lyricism come into play – crystal clear, I might add, unlike a lot of Young New England‘s tracks, which inadvertently get lost in the singer’s increasingly thick Bostonian accent.
Such is the case with the album’s title track – Transit’s attempt at bringing their own sense of pride and attachment to their native hometown. The band’s stab at creating their own pub crawl anthem unfortunately ends up suffering from a weirdly ineffective, low register chorus. Boynton reminds us all that, “If you’re too drunk to walk along the streets of cobblestone / You know Boston never drinks alone / Boston never drinks alone.” There’s a small chance that the word may get out to the Northeast that their beloved section of the US has their own little alternative anthem, but aside from that, I wasn’t able to fully appreciate this song for what it is. Then again, there are songs with lines about Michigan in them that I’m sure that New England wouldn’t fully appreciate either.
And finally, there’s an abundance of tracks on Young New England that either feel like filler, or just weren’t able to do a sufficient job of grabbing my attention. “So Long, So Long” and “Don’t Go, Don’t Stray” unfortunately suffer from the latter, as they end up getting pushed into ill-fitting places. This supposed strategy seemed to be in effect with Listen & Forgive as well, but there’s a big difference between these two records: the worst song on Listen & Forgive is still better than the best song on Young New England. And just like that, we’ve found why this record didn’t strike a chord with me.
I’m going to level with the band for just a minute. I know that writing, recording, mixing and producing a record is hard, strenuous work. It’s a laborious process to put yourself into just thirteen tracks for the public to judge and criticize at every turn. I won’t lie, there were parts of this review where I could feel myself becoming the fuel for “All Your Heart, Pt. 2”. However, despite this, I won’t sugarcoat it when I say that Transit made a mediocre album. There, I said it. I never thought I’d say it…but I did. That being said, after this review has been archived, Young New England will still be around in a lot of fans’ laptops and record collections. It may be the record that got people hooked on Transit, like Listen & Forgive did for me. It may end up getting the band a Main Stage spot on Warped Tour. The band could open up for Springsteen this time next year. For all I know Young New England could very well end the band’s existence, though I certainly hope that not to be the case.
You may respond to this review with applause. Others might dedicate an acronym-based hashtag to me in my honor. Some might even have a hateful respect, like in Get Him to the Greek (see below). However, whatever your thoughts may be, I’d love to hear them. Post a comment below and let’s create a dialogue. Because that’s what music is all about.