Review: We Are The Union – Great Leaps Forward

Artist: We Are The Union
Album: Great Leaps Forward
Genre: Melodic pop-punk/Ska
Label: Paper + Plastick

The title Great Leaps Forward was initially crafted as a reference to renowned musician Billy Bragg but it instantly serves a greater meaning. It’s a title that adequately describes the progress, Michigan native punk rockers, We Are The Union have made on their newest creation. Since their inception they have merely relied on word of mouth to amass a loyal following but it was only enough to keep them remaining relatively unheard of. Their debut album Who We Are, demonstrated the melodic quintet’s potential of skillfully melding the attitude and speed of punk with the dexterity of ska.  Their entertaining blend of styles proved to be sufficient enough to get the band signed to Paper + Plastick records. Their significant strides to success make Great Leaps Forward, an undeniably fitting title for their ambitious sophomore release.

We Are The Union’s infusion of melodic hardcore and punk-influenced ska, inarguabley imprints them with a constant comparison to Less Than Jake. While the correlation is justifiable, We Are The Union offer enough to set them apart from being labeled as a ripoff of their distinguished peer. Great Leaps Forward wastes no time in attaining the listener’s attention with an undeniably catchy and youthful energy. Their honest youthfulness transpires through their tales of growing up, surrounding themselves with ones they love and living life in the fast lane. The band’s generation is bound to relate to lines similar to, “Everyday is a new chance to stop throwing our lives away,” found on opening track, “We’re All Dead.” Reed Wollcott’s range of passionate shouts, growls and gang chants never cease to deliver. Each track cohesively utilizes their tasteful trademark of horn embellished rhythms and powerful leads that interchange between blistering speeds to more subdued melodic sections. Their dynamics are exemplified on “Start Over Starting Over,” which pays tribute to a conventional ska sound while “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” introduces a surprising reggae beat driven foundation.

The fusion of melodic punk and ska doesn’t come around much anymore but We Are The Union aim to put it back on the map. This record sounds like Less Than Jake mashed with Set Your Goals, (more so with the chants) but their youthful exuberance is enough to overlook the mistakes that occur. We Are The Union states, “I’ll fight the good fight and I’ll fight it my own way,” on “Five Out Of Five Who Kill, Love Slayer,” and this stands as an epitome the whole album follows. Coming in just over a half an hour, Great Leaps Forward is a genuine, fun and an engaging fourteen tracks.

Score: 8/10

Review written by: Nerissa Judd

James Shotwell
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