Boston, Massachusetts’ Transit really started making an impact on the scene in the late 2000’s. They broke through to a lot of people with their third official release, 2009’s Stay Home EP, which was reminiscent of melodic hardcore bands like Lifetime and Small Brown Bike. 2010’s full-length Keep This To Yourself (on Run For Cover) placed them in front of newer audiences and they soon signed to Rise Records, on which they released 2011’s Listen and Forgive, which, with its cleaner guitars and twinkly-ness, was much more like American Football than Tell All Your Friends. While people loved the album, a transition as extreme as this left fans wondering what the next one would sound like. That said, 2013’s Young New England was the band’s delve into poppier music, although the record still contained a heavy emo-influence, primarily in the guitar work (like all Transit records do). The album, however, was a bittersweet sound to a lot of fans, old and new.
That leads us to 2014’s Joyride, out now on Rise Records. Shortly before the album’s release, Transit announced the leaving of long-time guitarist Tim Landers, who had played on every release prior (Landers himself shared on social media that all of his parts would be likely removed from Joyride’s final mixes). That said, how did Joyride hold up?
Well, the problem with Joyride really lies in the fact that it’s a Transit album. Being one of the more creative bands in the newer pop punk and emo “revival” scenes, this was without a doubt their least interesting album to date. It feels like they lost most of their punk and emo influences without Landers there. Really, when you get down to it, this isn’t a punk or emo album at all – it’s a pop rock album by a barely recognizable band.
That’s not to say that Transit should just stick to their old stuff to appease their fans by any means. But what was always appreciable about Transit was the progress they made creatively in every release. Even with Young New England, which was many people’s least favorite, you could tell the band was doing what they wanted and were pushing their own boundaries as artists. And that was respectable. However this album makes them look lazy. Going back to the loss of a guitarist as well, the two separate guitar parts that strangely pieced together the band’s sound in the past are missing, as each part couldn’t survive without the other (try listening to KTTY in one ear at a time and you’ll see what I mean).
Now, even after all of the negative sentiments I just expressed about it, this is not necessarily a bad album by itself. It’s extremely catchy, and admittedly frontman Joe Boynton’s lyrics are still relatably sad and/or dark. Sometimes I question the authenticity of the lyrics due to this being the third or fourth album with what seems to be the same lyrical themes, but overall it seems that while the rest of the band have gotten lame-er, Boynton’s started putting way more thought into lyrical imagery and how his words fit into a song musically, rather than making them feel forced. There’s some great songs that stick out too, the first four in particular (“Sweet Resistance” will be on repeat for the next week, guaranteed), as well as “Fine By Me” (which is truly for anyone who’s looked back at their past and wished the present was a little more like the ol’ days) and “Too Little Too Late.”
For Joyride, I give the guys in Transit a generous 3 out of 5 stars. If it wasn’t for it being a Transit album, it might have been a 3.5, but I legitimately think they can do way better and that this record lacks a lot of creativity. Progression is good – degression, not so much.