Forever Came Calling’s debut album, Contender, proves that the band has not been defeated in any way, shape or form. And don’t be fooled by their hometown of Twentynine Palms—this California-grown band isn’t in the most golden state of mind.This album recounts the epic fails, the semi-successes, and everything that intervenes.
Contender is an album that never skips a beat or leaves listeners hanging. The music rarely pauses between each track, yet each song is distinct from the others. Drowned out electric guitar and bass riffs initiate the album in “Learning,” revving up the album’s tone, kicked into high gear by the fast drumming on “For The Wolves.” But it’s not the boisterous and strident instruments that carry each song; it’s the harsh tongue-in-cheek words pouring out of Candelaria’s mouth.
“Fuck your secrets // Don’t ever keep them”, the band chants in “Harbours”. No song is complete without those standard sing-along vocals amongst rolling drums and shredding guitars. Candelaria concludes with, “I’ll never be // Those things you need”. Lines like this capture the overall attitude underlying every song on Contender—they really stick to the listener and are impossible to overlook or forget.
Cue the finger pointing, especially to accent the backhanded compliments. “You always were my best regret // Signed sincerely the kid now on top of your bed,” Candelaria sings to the beat of the interchanging guitars, chased by Esquivel’s palpitating drums in “The Office”.
Forever Came Calling’s lyrics are hard-hitting and well written, though riddles with pop-punk clichés—this reviewer always gets the impression that songwriters of this genre have low self-esteem issues that populate most every song. Evidence of this claim can be witnessed in “Ides” when Candelaria shouts, “Just make mistakes ‘cause you’ll never be the same again // And I’m not worth your while, but what’s your while worth again?” It’s the classic put-down followed by a witty pick-me-up line.
The same idea oozes everywhere in the breakout song “Front Porch Sunrise”. As explained in the lyrics, the girl’s parents disapproved of him, “Screaming I’m the kid that’s keeping you lost // I could never be what you want // I could never, I could never.”The singer always blames himself—and maybe rightfully—but I always wonder who really screwed up the relationship. But, Forever Came Calling reassures us that theymanaged to turn themselves around in the chorus, stating, “I don’t need anyone or anything.” Now that’s a major confidence booster.
The beauty of pop-punk music is that it makes the angsty individual feel less alone, and that is a huge reason why bands of this genre succeed in their craft. Forever Came Calling represents those misunderstood kids who didn’t quite fit in, and while they maynot have necessarily escaped all of their demons, they have overcome the odds. Instead of taking their frustration out on themselves, they take it out on the stage and in the pit. “And I can’t stand this place that we’re from // And I can’t stand these things that I’ve done,” the band echoes as the guitars fade on the final track, “Dead Poet’s Honor”.
Contender is solid from start to finish, one song to the next. Forever Came Calling has matured individually and collectively as heard in the sound of their music and the wordsthat match. Two years of writing and recording has certainly paid off because Contenderis the type of album every band needs to catapult their big debut into music society.
*This review was composed by Sydney Gore and edited by Emily Coch