Early last year, I stumbled across an acoustic EP that immediately captured my attention with its emotional vocals and strong songwriting. I was extremely impressed with the band, and the EP was my third favorite of 2010, its title track my third favorite song of the year, and the band one of my best new discoveries. It’s safe to say that Take Cover‘s Waiting In The Moment EP was one of the best things I’ve happened upon in quite a long time. Three standalone singles later, the band recently unleashed their debut full-length. Full of creative guitar parts and endless heartfelt melodies, this is one of the best rock albums I’ve heard so far this year, an impressive feat for a band that’s somehow still unsigned. Take Cover brings everything you want out of a rock band, and at the highest level.
The beginning of album opener “Declaration” brings every bit of energy the band has to offer, with a pounding drum beat and driving vocals that show a somewhat different side from their previous work. After a brief glimpse at a reserved version of the chorus, the dancy beat and guitars return, allowing their rhythm to carry on into the next verse, before the chorus comes in with the sort of powerful melody that has become the band’s trademark. The chorus has definite singalong qualities and brings the feeling of group unity, especially in context with the track’s accusative bridge. Though I wasn’t sure how I felt when I first heard the song, it’s definitely grown on me and works well at the beginning of this album.
As “Run Away” opens, it’s difficult for me to not imagine the guitar riff in the intro belonging to some sort of 90s television show. It sounds a little out of place when the verse comes in with a more low-key vocals-driven verse that relies solely on piano and drums for its instrumentation, though it makes more sense when the chorus hits and the riff returns under the vocals. The second verse and bridge provide some diversity in sound, and show off the band’s talent in writing great guitar parts and catchy melodies, while the drum and bass parts tie everything together nicely as backing vocals and strings add a nice touch. From the get go, it’s easy to see this song being a choice for the band’s next acoustic endeavor.
Lead single “Back Pedal” just begs for you to sing along, and is a near-perfect nighttime summer driving song, with lyrics like “God only knows why all the things I love keep me up ’til three a.m.” and “I always talk, talk, talk, but I never back it up.” Catchy “na-na-nas” and a variety of guitar parts accompany Ryan Wickard’s lyrics and the track has its fair share of fun drum fills that make me want to air-drum along. The palm muted guitar parts in the verses provide a good counterpoint to the huge chorus and move the song along well. Overall, it’s a great choice for a first single and manages to showcase even more elements of the band’s sound.
Wickard shows off his sharp tongue throughout “Everything You Do,” calling out someone who thinks a bit too highly of himself or herself behind a fake front. The drum beat and guitar part draw you in for the verses, while the choruses are all about how “enough is enough” with “the names that you drop like you’re some pop-culture god” and “the money you spend on today’s latest trend,” and that Wickard’s calling bullshit. There’s some nice creativity in the guitars throughout the song as guitarists Odin Holmes and Brady Trudeau play with dissonance and carry the bridge with some great riffs and an impressive solo. It’s always nice to see pop-based bands who can branch out with their instruments, and Take Cover is definitely one of those bands.
As “When This Is Over” opens with acoustic guitars, I’m reminded of exactly what made me fall in love with this band in the first place. Wickard’s voice is perfect in this context, and it’s the perfect display of the band’s talent. Though the full-band chorus showcases the catchier and louder aspects of what they do (and they do it well), there’s just something special about how they sound when it’s a bit more intimate. With some nice blending between the two sides, this is definitely one of my favorite songs.
Despite the fact that the lyrics of “Don’t Look Down” don’t have a very strong pull, I really enjoy the melodies and instrumentation throughout as Derek Johnson’s drums play with the guitars to push the track forward beneath the vocals. The rhythmic changes add a lot to the song’s texture and make it one of the more creative efforts on the album from a musical perspective. The only problem I have with the track is that the chorus gets a bit repetitive after a while, taking away from the uniqueness of the rest of the song.
Even though the drum beat that opens “Reintroduce Myself” is enough to capture attention, the guitars and vocals that join in are the clear focal point of the intro. The minimal instrumentation in the verse gives the feeling of a lot of space for Wickard’s melodies, until the chorus hits and takes the track to another level with its huge sound and powerful vocals. Documenting a rediscovered relationship, the lyrics are personal, but just vague enough to be really relatable. With one of the catchiest choruses on the record, this is another one of the album’s stronger tracks and should prove to be a fan favorite for live shows.
Much like the beginning of “Run Away,” the opening of “Don’t Say You Love Me” is a bit reminiscent of a television show intro, and though the rest of the song branches off in terms of guitar parts and vocal stylings, the track falls short in comparison to the rest of the album. There’s nothing inherently “bad” about it or anything that makes me want to skip ahead (some of the parts actually show off a nice different aspect of Wickard’s voice), but the song just doesn’t stand out among the others very well. Nothing bad, but nothing as great as the tracks that come before.
The verses of “Running In the Wrong Direction” provide an atmosphere that’s well-suited for the penultimate track of an album, relying largely upon drums, simple guitar strums, and backing vocals for its foundation. The chorus provides some more interesting guitar parts with some bells added in for effect, and the sound of an organ in the second verse is a nice touch. The bridge has a nice structure, but seems like it’d be better suited for an album closer, as would the way that the final chorus ends and leads into the drum part. That said, it’s difficult to complain when it’s so well-written.
Forget what I said about “Running In The Wrong Direction;” “Wake Up” is the perfect way to end this album. With lots of vocal layering and instrumentation that manages to be reserved and huge at the same time, the track comes across almost like a lullaby, with the repeating “hey dreamer, what are you waiting for?” urging listeners to wake up and truly live. It’s a good message and a great song, leaving the album on a positive note.
On the whole, this album lives up to the potential shown by the band’s previous work, exploring different sounds while staying true to what makes them unique. Though they use a lot of similar song structures, they do a great job of making the parts within each song sound different from others, both in the same track and throughout the album. Their choruses are endlessly catchy, and there’s a great deal of creativity between verses in terms of vocal melodies and instrumentation. If you like your rock with an extra helping of pop, this is the band for you. The Dreamer And The Realist stands out among most of what has been put out this year, proving that integrity and true talent still have a place in 2011.