REVIEW: A Loss For Words – No Sanctuary

A Loss For Words

Artist: A Loss For Words
Album: No Sanctuary
Genre: Pop Rock/Punk
Label: Rise

It has probably been said time and time again but 2011 has been the glorious return of Pop Punk. With notable releases from familiar bands like New Found Glory, Set Your Goals, Man Overboard, Tranist, This Time Next Year, The Wonder Years and to a lesser extent, Blink-182. On top of that, there has been numerous promising releases from up and coming bands like Turnover, Citizen, Time Spent, Handguns and Last Call.

So with the genre’s popularity being at it’s highest in some years, where does Boston’s A Loss For Words fit into the scheme of things? On face value No Sanctuary, the bands sophomore full-length, ticks all the right Pop Punk boxes but doesn’t quite have the immediate impact some had hoped for.
From the start “Honeymoon Eyes” and “Pray For Rain” has that all too familiar thriving, upbeat punchy Pop Punk sound which works well early on but both tracks do not have a lasting impact, although it’s clear that vocalist Matt Arsenault is more than capable to stand out from the crowd, as his vocals throughout bring more definition to the record.

“Pirouette” comes off as an early highlight, as the neat structuring of Arsenault’s sincere vocals in the verse, nicely give way to a bold chorus that bounces along with plenty of adrenaline and the energetic bridge with feel-good sing-along moment tops the track off.

By the time you reach “The Hammers Fall,” you can’t help but feel you’ve unfortunately heard it all before. Whilst A Loss For Words have the instantly favourable hooks and harmonies, tracks like the latter and ‘Raining Excuses’ fail to truly grab your attention and come off as your typical circa 2011 Pop Punk.

By no means is this A Loss For Words’ fault. It’s evident that they have talent throughout; Lee Preston’s drumwork keeps the tempo going from start to finish, and both Nevada Smith and Marc Dangora showcase strong and precise guitar playing (see “The Lost Cause I Used to Be”).

The title track is somewhat of an exit stylistically, as it comes off as an aggressive yet melodic number that somewhat shows the bands willingness to try something different and not constrain themselves to Pop Punk clichés. In addition “No Sanctuary” can be considered as a turning point, as tracks like “JMR” and “Finite” are thoroughly strong. The former is a chugging, vibrant number with bright yet simple chorus that ideally suits Arsenault’s voice, while the latter is another example to emphasis the vocal work of Arsenault, as the steady tempo of ‘Finite’ compliments the sincere tone and harmonious delivery.

On top of that, the slow, ballad-like “Jetsetter” shows Arsenault’s confident vocals in a (very) strong light, as his voice demands attention and takes centre stage as the band’s sound take a natural progression towards a full band finale.

In conclusion, No Sanctuary is somewhat a difficult record to summarize. Whilst it has all the favorable characteristics that a good Pop Punk record needs. There are moments; perhaps too many moments, where A Loss For Words seem stuck in the genre and come off as slightly predictable. Whilst musically and especially vocally, the band are highly strong, it could be considered that this; along with a handful of stand out tracks, is what saves ‘No Sanctuary’ from being a complete write-off.

Whilst it may not be the Pop Punk record of the year, and if the market hadn’t become so crowded over the past twelve months, it maybe a better record. Nevertheless it is evident that No Sanctuary is just the next step towards bigger things for A Loss For Words, as it’s clear they have talent and (in places) the songs to head in the right direction.

SCORE: 7/10

Review written by: Sean Reid

James Shotwell
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