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Cartel – Chroma (2006) September 3, 2008

Posted by Jordan in Album Reviews/Thoughts.
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Aside from random thoughts on whatever I happen to be listening to, I’ll put up some album reviews from time to time, like so.

OK, if you’re even mildly into pop-punk, pop-rock, or anything of that sort, you MUST own this album. I know this band can be really divisive, but as far as I’m concerned, this is incredibly well-performed pop-rock that’s not only nearly flawless, but listening to it is just flat-out FUN. The production is as you would expect from this kind of music: a strong mix on the vocals so they sit right up front, bright guitar tones, punchy drum sounds, etc. I own hundreds of CD’s, and there aren’t too many that I can honestly say that, beginning to end, there’s no weak point. Well, this one comes extremely close, with “Save Us” being the only track that I sometimes skip over. Other than the two singles, “Say Anything (Else)” and “Honestly”, which are both outstanding, I really like “Burn This City” and “If I Fail”. The last three tracks also hint at different possibilities for future albums. “Q” and “A” close out the CD in spectacular fashion, being over 11 minutes long when listened to back-to-back, as they’re meant to be. “A” incorporates mild electronica and piano into their trademark sound, and even brings back an anthemic section of the lyrics from “Burn This City”, but it’s all done so seamlessly that nothing ever seems unusual or out of place.

The lyrics, as you might expect from a pop-rock album, are largely focused around topics like love and searching for truth, but there’s enough variation so that you don’t find yourself rolling your eyes. They’re written to be easy to connect with, and to also be easy to dig a little deeper with, if you want. It might not be the deepest or most introspective album you’ve ever heard, but that’s not what it’s intended to be. These guys are fully aware of what they’re doing, and you can tell by listening to the album that they have a lot of fun with it and make no pretense whatsoever to be anything more than what they are. Great, great stuff that’s perfect for those days when you’re in the mood to just drive and sing way too loudly.