Transit – Joyride

  • Cole Faulkner posted
  • Reviews


Joyride - Rise Records

I was in the minority when it came to Transit’s controversial full length, Young New England.  Where the bulk of the pop-punk community framed the Boston quartet’s developing interest in anthemic indie-punk as a turnoff, feature songs like the title track completely meshed with my preferences, earning the record a deserving spot on my Best Of 2013 list.  In the face of such criticism the band held fast in their response, defending their creation like a parent to their child.  

Fast forward a year and the boys are back at it with the release of their anticipated followup, Joyride.  But despite Transit’s prior belief in what appeared to be their ongoing evolution, the result sends somewhat of a mixed message.  Those expecting the band to plow forward with the bold and fulfilling sounds of Young New England will find a playlist with more in common with their Listen & Forgive days for sure.  But before those that turned up their noses to Young New England jump for joy, one fact holds the entire experience back: Joyride is a muddied culmination of stagnation and regression.

Transit still knows how to assemble a catchy pop tune, but throughout Joyride it feels like the band is walking on eggshells, trying to write the album demanded by skeptical fans, rather than a product really embraced by the band.  Take the lukewarm chorus of “Saturday Sunday.”  With the initial buildup to what should become an invigorating apex, the accompanying chords meander lifelessly to the diluted chorus line, “will it ever be alright alright / will it ever be okay okay / it’s just another stormy Saturday / it gets better / I hope it gets better.”  Most of the time the band feels like they’re holding back for fear of sounding too “big.”  Other flops like “Ignite & Friction” sound like the rejected table scraps from a Motion City Soundtrack studio session, and those like “Summer Dust” unfold with so many points of divergence that listeners won’t know whether they should sing along, bob their head, wait for the chorus or verse or skip ahead in hopes of something more definitive.

Those staying the course stand to find a few enjoyable stand alone nuggets.  “Sweet Resistance” distances itself from the letdown with a refreshing toe tapper that balances its simple but immediate finger snapping rhythm with the big breakout toe tapping chorus.  “Nothing Left To Lose” borders on similar success but stumbles on shallow lyrical followup, but “Too Little, Too Late” regains some of that footing even if the backing vocals seem misaligned from the rich chorus.  Only a small minority of Joyride’s tunes come close to the organic syntheses they strive for.

Tried and true Transit fans that still have their blinders on will likely overlook most of Joyride’s flaws the same way that they chose to ignore that Young New England was different in a positive way.  Transit remains a group of highly skilled songsmiths, but their current focus on the minutia feels like an exercise in trying to wear into too many hats all at once. The result comes across robotic and self-restrained; the songs sound over thought-out and calculated rather than innately engaging.  Next time around, hopefully Transit breaks free from this limbo state, figures out what type of music they want to play, and then give us the record that Joyride could have been.