My introduction to Oakville's Seaway was the music video for "Sabrina the Teenage Bitch" a few summers ago. Initially, I wasn't sold, but I decided to give the self-titled EP a chance. Again, I wasn't too impressed, but I figured I should keep an eye on the band because they were local to me and fairly new to the scene. Fast forward a year, and now I've seen Seaway five times and I seem to like them a bit more after each show or festival I've seen them play. With the release of Hoser – the band's debut full length – just around the corner, I started to grow anxious to hear more Seaway tunes. The time to delve into this album is finally upon me.
Hoser opens with "Expectation," which is one of the shorter, fast punk songs. Before this track even reaches its midway point, you already get the sense that Seaway's sound has matured a lot since the days of the EP – or even the days of the split with Safe to Say. Ryan Locke's raspy vocals (and the somewhat angsty lyrics) have made a return and sound better than ever. The backing vocals that were heard from time to time on Seaway's previous releases are used more frequently on Hoser, and I think it's an excellent asset to the band's sound. Tracks like "Deferral" and "Slowing Down" are almost dominated by guitarist Patrick Carleton's softer cleans.
"Puddles," one of two re-recorded tracks (this time as a full band, rather than acoustic on Clean Yourself Up), is a super fast punk song that clocks in at just over one minute – much like the album's opener. The other re-recorded track, "Hourglass," was also on Seaway's acoustic EP that was released in the spring. "Hourglass" consists of very fast-paced verses, an infectiously catchy chorus ("I just hate this feeling / Sitting on my bed / Staring at the ceiling") and an aggressive bridge that reminded me of some older The Story So Far material.
Every track on Hoser has some kind of highlight, but there are a few songs that immediately grabbed hold of me upon my first listen. The album's lead single, "Too Fast for Love," will be a favourite for many. It's very upbeat and brings a happy vibe to the table, all the while displaying some solid musicianship. "Slowing Down" opens with Locke's vocals and an acoustic guitar, but Carleton quickly comes in and ultimately takes over the vocal duties for the majority of this track. "Slowing Down" is one of the slower songs (go figure), but it features my favourite chorus and the bridge promptly reminded me of the ever so popular blink-182.
As I was nearing the end of the album on my first listen, I was starting to wonder if Seaway had any major tricks up their sleeves. The ninth track is definitely a bit of a curveball, to say the least. With that being said, "The Weight" is one of the most impressive tracks on Hoser. This a very ballad-ish song that features Shane Told (Silverstein) along with some calming piano and guitar parts, as well as depressing lyrics; it's a very different sound for Seaway. When the song reaches its midway point, things start to pick up and "The Weight" eventually builds up into an epic finish – which sees the band blend everything together exceptionally well.
This may not be the pop punk album of the year, but it will definitely be a contender for many – myself included (right now, it's behind The Wonder Years for my #2). Tracks like "What's Really Good," "Too Fast for Love" and "Shy Guys" show the fast-paced, catchy side of Seaway that everyone knows and loves, while tracks like "The Weight" and "Slowing Down" show a softer, more emotional (more so the former) side of the band. I don't know what more you could ask from Seaway; there's several traditional fast, catchy and fun pop punk songs that fans have come to expect from the band – though every aspect seems to have been brushed up a little bit – and there's even a few new styles of songs that the members tried out and executed perfectly.