For Fans Of
I’ve been keeping tabs on CommonWealth since they first landed onto the scene with their debut single, ‘Father(s),’ back in 2017. After two years, in which they’ve inked a deal with SharpTone Records and dropped more singles, the band just unveiled their debut LP, ‘Everyone Around Me’.
Opener ‘Fear’ starts things off strongly. The cleaner guitars, great bass tone, and softer, distant vocals heard within the first thirty seconds give the song an ambient quality that draws you in before the song really kicks things up a notch. As once the rhythm section drop in, attention is fully grabbed, and hard. With brighter guitar layerings and quick, consistent tambourine hits, the chorus here really pops out, showing off the talents of all four members in the process. ‘Fear‘ also does a really good job of setting up the album’s tone, revealing the clean yet tight production and simple but effective instrumental elements you’ll hear throughout.
In addition to the opener, there’s plenty of great cuts present that bring the energetic goods. ‘Lost’ is much more upbeat right from the get-go, with pounding drums driving the overall rhythm forward. ‘Happy,’ is also similar to ‘Lost’ in that aspect, and has a chorus that really piques your attention via a captivating vocal performance from frontman Tyler St. Clair, who just kills it across this record! The guy has a great voice and he provides some great takes to hit home the bitingly raw lyricism that is the focal point of the ‘Everyone Around Me‘. As it’s an album born out of frustration, solitude, but also a real hope to be better and to expect much better from those around you.
One of the biggest standouts is the band’s fantastic debut single, the aforementioned ‘Father(s)’. It’s a highly emotional number – a heated middle-finger to wayward fathers from the very children who have now grown-up and understandably resent their father’s absence. Fittingly, it’s a piece that shows off the group’s more aggressive tendencies, especially in the vocal department. Not only that, but the lyrics vent out huge amounts of frustration and bitterness about these kinds of cowardly father-figures. The best lyrical example being: “My father, he never believed in me, believed in you, believed in us, or this family, and I/I wonder how it would’ve been if my mother lied and told me you were dead.” So much of the lyricism behind ‘Everyone Around Me‘ is deadly blunt and straight to the point, this song standing tall as a perfect example. Which works so well in the album’s favour too, as you know exactly what the band are wishing to share with you.
‘Reckless’ is another big favourite of mine. The vocals in the second verse blew me away and the song comes armed with a superbly catchy chorus too. The lyrics talk about addiction and how it affects a larger family, with lyrics like: “your heart bleeds for no one, polluted with addiction,” and “I’ll take the kids and run away, live our lives in a safe space/you’ve done enough to my mental state, I can’t believe the person you’ve become.” It takes on the role of a spouse finally fed up with trying to help and care for their partner who just cannot bring themselves out of a very dark hole, deciding to let them figure their own mess out and save the children from that kind of toxic home life.
Other notable tracks are ‘Vinyl,’ a super energetic number, one that upkeep’s an ambient vibe that’s a major part of the band’s sound. It also adds in some aggression through the vocals in the pre-chorus and chorus, showing that CommonWealth knows how to balance out these varying parts of their sound. Tyler’s vocals are also very impressive on ‘Taxi, delivering hook-riddled melodies through some of the best choruses this album has to offer.
There are a few moments where the American group slow things down, but they still land just as hard as the rest of the album. ‘Runaway’ brings in a great balance of softer sections that show the ambient side of the band’s and heavier passages where the vocals and instrumentals deliver plenty of raw emotion.
‘Wilt’ begins with darker guitar work and bass lines that pair up with energised drumming to drive the song forward as it slowly builds up to a magnificent chorus. During this refrain, the vocals not only deliver great melodies (something of a trend for ‘Everyone Around Me‘) but also show a characteristic that defines much of this record: heartfelt aggression. So during the peak of ‘Wilt’s chorus, we’re met with heavy shouted lines of “I saw you lay there as the flowers wilt away, any day now they say; it’s a waiting game we play/Colors fade slowly, why can’t you wait?/I miss how things used to be.” Damn.
The track that follows, the album’s swansong of ‘Unbalanced’, does a fantastic job of wrapping things up. Once again, the vocals are impressive and the melodies are all highly memorable, becoming even better as the song goes on. ‘Unbalanced‘ has a great build to it, displaying just as much emotion as the previous track(s), which isn’t all that surprising at this point. That kind of open-heart-on-your-sleeve emotion is shown not only through the instrumental performances, but also in the lyrics, which touch on the topics of mental illness and self-loathing, decrying: “exchange my soul for common sense to gain nothing of who I am/at the expense of my well-being, I’m giving up on me.”
CommonWealth have created a debut record filled with hefty amounts of emotion and bitingly real passion, both of which cut through clearly on every single song in ‘Everyone Around Me’. Things don’t ever get lost or muddy, which is no easy feat. Every piece of raw, human vulnerability that’s delivered on this 11-track LP comes in the shape of some really impressive, memorable performances too. This is modern pop-punk and alt-rock with real heart and soul, with something deeply personal to share with the world. Captivating.