Warner Drive hail out of Los Angeles, California, and are known for creating a mix of punk and glam rock that are heavy on the riffs. They are becoming quite well known on the rock circuit for work on the Vans Warped tour, and their hard work seems to be paying off. To make an attempt to try and encapsulate the energy of their live shows, the band constantly throws off fast riffs and drum kicks to bring the stage to their album, which is something Warner Drive actually gets right. However, the real issue with this album is how truly cheesy the whole ride can become.
As far as instrumentation goes, Warner Drive are far from inventing the wheel. There are sweeping vocals all over the track listing, being my least favorite segment of the band itself. It is not to say the lead vocals are bad, but the tone set by the music behind them make them stick out like a sore thumb. There is a duo of lead and bass guitars that do a solid job of working with each other without throwing their counterpart off kilter, and the drums are the true rock to their sound, being the driving force of the record by a wide margin. Despite not being mixed high enough in production, the drum work is easily the best aspect of Warner Drive’s sound.
While most tracks on the record come off either average or flat, there are a few track worth noting. “King of Swing” is full of goofy lyrics that detract from the song’s lasting power, but the guitar and drum lines are the best of the whole record. It is one of the few instances in which the bass gets time to shine, and it does not disappoint. “Fully Loaded” ends the album with the best song by a mile. Not only does it feature the best solo on the album, it also is the rare occurrence where they all mesh together well. The vocals are solid, while the drums and guitars compliment each other with ease under the fast tempos.
The negatives on City of Angels tip the album into a more average territory. While the album does have a certain energy to it, most of the songs are too dull and flat to to get the blood pumping too long past the opener. The idea of making a cheesy rock album is fine, but the constant mix between punk rock and sweeping glam influences are too much. Warner Drive would be better off picking one genre and sticking with it, as opposed to reaching farther than their sonic walls can possibly grasp at this point. Two songs specifically prove this flaw on the second half of the album. “West Memphis Three” is meant to be a political message about a famously botched case in American court history, but the song just comes off as more silly than interesting. Political songs typically have an edge worth divulging into, but this one just lacks any life or tangible writing. To follow that track up, “Ah-Ha” is even worse: The vocals come off almost as if Weird Al is fronting the group, while his band is impersonating any 90s punk rock band with a sense of humor.
Warner Drive have created an album that is certainly amusing to some level, but the problems vastly outweigh the positives. Despite having a decent amount of personality and a solid set of guitar and drum lines throughout the record, the vocals and tone come off as goofy and uninteresting. I almost got the feeling that they were trying to score an anime series with the pumped up tempos and ludicrous ideas present in the lyrical content. If you like listening to goofy sounding music that has a decent heart beat to the composition, check out Warner Drive. If you have a hard time getting into music without a discernible direction or hard edge, this might not be the record for you.
1. Rising From the Fallen
2. The City of Angels
3. Boys N’ Girls
4. Radio Love Song
5. Open Our Eyes
6. King of Swing
7. West Memphis Three
9. Falling Down
10. Fully Loaded
Warner Drive Links