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Over a seven year history, Boston quintet Transit have played around with the mechanics of their sound time and time again throughout several studio albums, extended play and split releases. Initially a youthful, undeniably catchy pop-punk act, the release of 2011 album ‘Listen and Forgive‘ saw a marked evolution in the band’s songwriting, taking on influences from the likes of emo godfathers Braid and Piebald, producing by far one of the year’s best pop-punk efforts. Regardless of the band’s stylistic changes, there’s always been a strong sense of passion and authenticity in their music. That Transit have cultivated such a consistent standard throughout their career makes ‘Young New England‘, the band’s fourth full-length album, such a letdown.
What’s frustrating about ‘Young New England‘ is that it’s not a bad record, per se – there’s certainly some quite enjoyable moments where some of the band’s better elements shine through. Ultimately though, a number of factors make what should have been a triumphant follow up to ‘Listen and Forgive‘ a somewhat average, forgettable listen. The main elements that plague the album include an absence of energy and drive, overall lack of creativity, and the frequency of cliché lyrical and thematic ideas. Tracks like ‘Sleep’, ‘Hang It Up’ and ‘Hazy’ seem to have entirely eschewed the punch and vivacity that the band had – up until this point – managed to incorporate into their overall dynamic very well.
Creatively, the album can tend to feel like variations on a theme. There’s an apparent lack of interest with ideas musically, feeling fairly repetitive. That said, the songs feel catchy in an infectious, short-term sense which, indeed, is an achievement worth noting and clearly something the band have a knack for. Where this falls flat is in that longer-term sense – and in this sense, few of the songs feel particularly memorable.
What’s harder to swallow are some of the cliché lyrical and thematic ideas. "Pain is temporary / you will love and you will live", we’re told on the disjointed ‘Hang It Up’, struggling to feel sincere. As the album’s title suggests, a lot of the lyrical content centres around the band’s hometown of Boston, but the near-incessant references grow real grating, real fast. Most evident of this is the album’s title track. Assumedly intended to be anthemic, the chorus reminder that “If you’re too drunk to walk along the streets of cobblestone / Boston never drinks alone” feels simultaneously hackneyed and alienating.
That said, there are some tracks that manage to at least keep ‘Young New England‘ standing on its own legs. ‘Weathered Souls’, ‘Don’t Go, Don’t Stray’, album single ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ and album closer ‘Lake Q’ are by far the strongest on the album. The first two are by far are the most energetic, refreshingly providing the punchiness that can tend to be astray elsewhere on the album. ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ features the album’s most memorable chorus by far, and it’s an obvious, wise choice for a single. ‘Lake Q’ is a slow lead out that demonstrates frontman Joe Boynton‘s most intimate, personal vocal and lyrical performance in a way that feels far more engaging than any of the Boston references scattered in the twelve songs leading up to it.
What it all comes down to with ‘Young New England‘, and what is arguably the most disappointing aspect of the record, is that it feels like it could have been incredible with a little more time and effort. Ideas feel undeveloped, and there’s a constant, uneasy sense that something’s simply missing – and at 13 tracks and 45 minutes long, this can simply grow tedious.
Ultimately, with ‘Young New England’, Transit feel like a band unsure of how to properly progress. Ideas feel like they’re yet to be worked to their full potential, and the overall lack of vigour drag down the album – particularly given how enjoyable and interesting the band’s last couple efforts have been. At the end of the day, ‘Young New England’ is simply an ‘okay’ record, which – as a follow up to ‘Listen and Forgive’ – simply feels like a step backwards.
1. Nothing Lasts Forever
2. Second to Right
3. Young New England
5. So Long, So Long
6. Weathered Souls
7. Hang It Up
8. Don’t Go, Don’t Stray
9. Thanks for Nothing
10. Summer, Me
12. Bright Lights, Dark Shadows
13. Lake Q