Second to Last is a DIY punk rock band from Lodi, Calif., signed to an independent label called Quote Your Pulse Records. The band has been around for a few years, releasing a few EPs shortly after forming and a split with Starters earlier this year. On the new record, which is titled Nobody Cares, Second to Last takes influence from well-known bands like Saves the Day, Brand New and Crime in Stereo. This creates a bit of a nostalgic sound, but Second to Last throws its own little twist into each and every song and manages to make it sound fresh.
The record opens with "Give Me Anything" and "California, Son." Both of these tracks feature solid verses that utilize the punk beat, but things really take off during the choruses. The next track few tracks follow a similar pattern: there's a punk beat driving the verses, the riffs and chords are simple but effective and the choruses are sure to make you sing along at the top of your lungs by the time you've listened to the song just one time.
For the most part, Nobody Cares continues down the same path – but that's a good thing. As I gave the record more of my time, I started to enjoy it much more. It is by no means a perfect release (though it is close); on the contrary, there are three tracks that I would classify as perfect: "Window Seat," "Blaze" and "Freight Train Blues." The instrumentation on these three tracks seems a bit more interesting – especially during the chorus sections. The first of which, "Window Seat," features some excellent guitar parts and lyrics ("You've got a window seat so you can sit and stare down at the world and pretend to care / I wish I had a window seat so I could sit and stare / I'd prove to the world that you're not really there").
Track eight, "Freight Train Blues," was an immediate favourite, and I'm sure many other listeners will feel the same way. It starts off with a really somber Brand New vibe, but it eventually picks up when you reach the chorus – which is absolutely huge and hits you like a freight train. The next track, "Blaze," also features a chorus that hits hard. The lyric "I carved my heart out of my chest and set it ablaze / My words aren't worth anything when I've wasted all my days / Get me out of this hell..." coupled with a punk beat and a massive guitar riff that rings through your ears makes for a very nice chorus. Furthermore, the final run-through of the chorus sees the drummer change the pace a bit, which helps the song end perfectly.
One of my only complaints with Nobody Cares is that some of the verses lack much substance, but Second to Last always makes up for that in a huge way during the choruses. Another thing worth mentioning is that, at times, some of the lyrics are very silly. On the other hand, as I've already mentioned a few times earlier in the review, the members also have the ability to include some great lines to sing along to.
There isn't one track on Second to Last's debut full length that feels out of place or is weak enough to make one think, "the band shouldn't have put this song on this record." The most redeeming quality, by far, is the choruses; every track has an excellent chorus and there's enough diversity in them that it doesn't seem like Second to Last is just recycling ideas that sound catchy.
If I had to pick one album that I wasn't expecting to enjoy as much this year, it would definitely be Nobody Cares. I honestly wasn't much of a fan of Second to Last's previous material, but this is a huge step up in every way imaginable – notably because of how catchy everything is. Be sure to check out this punk rock/pop punk masterpiece when it's digitally released on November 12. In the meantime, you can stream two tracks ("Window Seat" and "Blaze" – the links of which can be found below) to prepare yourself for what's to come.
Links: Facebook - "Window Seat" - "Blaze"