American pop-punk quartet Cartel have come a long way from the masterpiece that was their first full-length, ‘Chroma’. Despite their subsequent attempts though, they have never managed to emulate this record’s success. The latest effort to get back to their prior levels of success comes in the form of their new album, ‘Collider’, which, whilst being eagerly anticipated by fans, myself included, sadly doesn’t quite live up to the hype. However, the second half of the album does show some promise and possibly a new direction for the band’s future.
Opening track ‘Second Chances’ sees the standard upbeat tune you would expect from a pop-punk release and a relatively catchy chorus to grab the attention, but sadly it doesn’t stand out enough, similar to later track ‘Uninspired’. Previous releases have demonstrated the incredible vocal talent of frontman Will Pugh which is frustratingly under-used on this record. with his performance on ‘Take Me With You’ sounding like the backing vocals he should be singing over.
This album is not all bad though, the later tracks see Cartel take a darker, heavier turn which works very well for them. Solid number ‘Disconnect’ sounds instrumentally similar to Anberlin‘s popular track ‘Paperthin Hymn’, which could be an exciting new direction for this band to head in and one they could be successful with as title track ‘Collider’ demonstrates. Getting back to their roots with infectious pop-punk produces a great track in ‘Sympathy’, a definite album highlight and shows that when Cartel do get it right, they can still be the heavyweights they once were.
‘Collider’ is certainly not Cartel‘s best album, but it shows promise and perhaps a new direction for the band as relying solely on catchy pop-punk may not be working for them anymore. It may be time to let go of the glory days of ‘Chroma’ and break into a new area of the music scene. If they pursue this, it could see them get back to the top of their game because, sadly, ‘Collider’ just isn’t quite there.
Written by Jonathon Barlow