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Unlike his stadium-filling, Hollywood actress-marrying namesake in Coldplay, singer Chris Martin and his cohorts in Connecticut’s Hostage Calm have a very different existence altogether. Playing an energetic and flamboyant style of melodic hardcore that should please fans of The Smiths and The Wonder Years equally, they here release their sophomore record following up 2010’s impressive self-titled debut, and blows any preconceptions out the water with a phenomenal piece.
Combining influences from all over the place, from early Brand New to The Weakerthans, from The Beach Boys’ keen ear for melody to hooks the size of those deployed on Weezer’s 'Pinkerton,' this is a timeless album that perfectly depicts the frustration and the hopelessness of being young and living in America in 2012 in a time of recession and malaise. The diversity of what’s on offer here is astounding; whereas their compatriots seek to subvert the saturation of the same bands doing the same things endlessly but end up blending in, this truly sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s a paean to the motherland in the vein of The Boss, without becoming an exercise in aping; a tremendous insight into a band finally realising their potential.
It’s hard to identify standouts here, this needs to be treated as a whole to take in the array of elements on offer. 'On Both Eyes', 'Don't Die On Me Now' and 'Brokenheartland' start off proceedings in fine fettle, the type of songs sure to incite incendiary reactions at their upcoming appearance at Gainesville’s punk rock party, Fest 11. It’s in the latter part that the record really comes into its own, with 'The M Word' and album highlight 'Patriot' really pushing the envelope, the latter a purely acapella track, which is the closest we’ll get to The Beach Boys’ pop-perfection in the modern age. Finale ‘One Last Salute’ is a culmination of all the themes explored on the record, the huge riffs ringing out proceedings perfectly.
Like Balance And Composure’s 'Separation' last year, based on associated acts this is not an album I ever thought I would like, but its true class shines throughout. Hostage Calm have grown from a fairly run-of-the-mill post-hardcore band (their name comes from an obscure Quicksand b-side) that explores both sides of the pop-punk genre, and is sure to deservedly appear on several end-of-year lists even this late on in the calendar. As the days darken and the trees shed their leaves, this is a perfect autumn record. Like those oh-so-witty WW2 propaganda posters parodied left, right and centre in every corner of the internet, Please Remain Calm and Listen To Hostage Calm.
'Please Remain Calm' by Hostage Calm is out now on Run For Cover Records.
Words by Ollie Connors (@olliexcore)