Little Cities Release Eponymous EP – Reviewed By Josh Taerk

I am a huge fan of Pop Punk music. Some of my fondest memories take place in a now-closed club in Toronto waiting to watch bands like New Found Glory, Motion City Soundtrack, Plain White T’s, and Fall Out Boy do their thing. So, when I heard the opening seconds of Little Cities self-titled EP, it felt like coming back home. Then I found out that this 5-piece alt-pop rock outfit is also from Canada and knew I was already home.

Formed in Charlottetown Prince Edward Island in the Canadian Maritimes, Little Cities brings new life to a recently quiet sub-genre of pop and rock music. Citing bands like Fall Out Boy, Good Charlotte, and Blink-182 as references/sources of inspiration, Little Cities sonically delivers on this expectation and simultaneously breaks away from it as well.

After listening to the EP for the first time a couple of things jumped out at me right away. The main thing I noticed is that Little Cities has 2 singers trading off songs and parts. Each singer brings a different energy and feel to the songs they lead, adding different textures and flavours to their respective tracks. What I love about this, is that Little Cities uses the musical arsenal they have to create unique experiences within each of the songs on the EP.

The first song on The EP “Wasted” completely reminded me of a cross between Faber Drive’s Seven Second Surgery album and the synth-driven, soaring vocals sounds of Motion City Soundtrack. The bright, crystal clear vocal fits perfectly with the overall feel of the track, and the instrumentation fits beautifully with the voice leading the song. Everything comes together to enhance the emotional message in the song of honouring yourself and figuring out what love is by realizing what it’s not. “Wasted” feels like an opening song for an album/EP, and the band shows a lot of sonic awareness not only recognizing that feel within the track but also putting that into play on the EP. With the first song of the EP, Little Cities sets up the listener’s expectations of what they are going to get on the rest of the album. However, the band only sets up these expectations to break away from them, in the best way, moving forward.

The next song on the album “ ‘Bout You” begins and everything feels like a natural progression from the first song into this one. The guitar/amp sounds blend together seamlessly, and the way “Wasted” ends with just the bass, guitar, and vocals sets up the new rhythm and feel of “ ‘Bout You” beautifully. Then the second lead singer begins singing, and the song takes on a completely different energy and feel. This time, I start to get more Joel Madden (Good Charlotte) and Mark Hoppus (Blink-182) vibes from the singer with the slightly darker, more attitude driven tones in his voice. The song then appears to be self-aware of this new element in the mix, and leans into this new sound, particularly in the chorus. The chorus takes on a much more adrenaline-fueled, edgier feel, allowing the attitude and natural tones of this singer’s voice to shine through. I felt big “This is the anthem / Throw all your hands up” and “Girl at the rock show” vibes listening to the chorus of this song.

Another stand out track on this EP is “Can I Come Over”. I love when bands mix genres and expand upon their influences, and that’s exactly what Little Cities does with this track. Instead of starting with high-gain electric guitars and drums, as would be expected for a band siting Good Charlotte as an influence, this track starts off with a much more contemporary pop feel. Synth, bass, and programmed drums that sit further back in the mix than the drum sounds so far, start this track off, and instead of soaring, high energy vocals Little Cities gives us a much more vulnerable, conversational vocal tone that sits right at the front of the mix. Again, the band sets up the listener’s expectations and then completely breaks away from them to catch the listener off guard and draw them further into the listening experience. Sometimes you’ve got to use the master’s tools to take down the master’s house, and that’s exactly what Little Cities does with “Can I Come Over” and their self-titled EP.

Overall, I am very impressed with Little Cities EP. I love that they’re paying homage to the genre they’ve found tons of influence within, and yet add new flavours and blend other genre elements together to make something that is uniquely their own. If you love pop-punk, rock, or alt-rock music, I would definitely give Little Cities a listen.

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