[How the hell are these guys on the same label as Propagandhi, Daggermouth, and Comeback Kid?]
The problem with overselling something is that, if it works, expectations are created. High ones at that. So while there’s nothing violently wrong with Passenger Action’s self-titled full-length debut, there is something troubling about the Canadian rockers’ image. What Passenger Action promises is a compromise between technical and punk rock which, while contradictory, is still an interesting premise. What they deliver is competent, complacent pop rock in the vein of the latest albums from
Oh sure, there are flecks of punx speckles here and there, and the band doesn’t rely solely on common time. Album opener “Tonight We Resonate” is a solid first track, starting with a lonely chord progression before exploding into a fist-pumper. Instrumental numbers “(Night Frisbee)” and “(Good Ones Are Hard To Come By)” reveal a knack for more ambient, experimental material. They’re each under two minutes long, but reveal a musical depth that that band seems to subvert on their other songs. “Good Ones” briefly recalls U2 circa The Joshua Tree; combined with frontman Shawn Moncrieff’s love of clean, powerful vocals, these guys could really push themselves towards something bigger and/or better. By which I mean OLP circa Happiness… Is Not a Fish That You Can Catch instead of OLP circa Healthy in Paranoid Times. Five-minute finale “Twenty Weeks” further hints at the band’s potential for dreamier, sludgier material.
But for the most part, Passenger Action is merely an adequate release rendered disappointing by inappropriate marketing. These songs don’t have much in hooks or delivery. Passenger Action doesn’t do anything annoying or offensive, but that’s part of the problem: Their album is too safe and unremarkable. But if you’re into pseudo-emo rock, hey, here’s something from our neighbors up north.