| When the band June first hit my ears, it was just around the time they were due to release their first EP on
the growing record label The Vinyl Summer. This is when I got the chance to do a talking piece with the band, and I could tell that they had an amazingly untapped potential. A thrilling combination of talent, feeling, and youthful energy was omnipresent on each track, making me extremely hopeful for another June release on which they'd be able to really take advantage of all they have to offer the music community. A month later, the band signed to Victory Records, and their debut full-length—If You Speak Any Faster—showed promise to be the record I was hoping for.
If You Speak Any Faster is the raw potential of June, finally done recording justice. The opening track, "Speak
Up," is a fantastic song that I think may still be my favorite. Tim and AJ exchange vocals like pros—the switch-offs are executed seamlessly and strategically, producing a great variety of vocal sound and stylistic originality that is handled much cleaner than I've heard some bands try to pass off.
The CD moves onto "Patrick," one of the intentionally leaked tracks to get fans excited. This song was well chosen for that, because with clever lyrics, upbeat instruments, and catchy vocal trades, the song represents everything the album is full of. This album features several songs also available on the EP—"OK Corral" is one of them, which has been cleaned up beautifully and blends very well with all the new material. "My Side of the Story" is an interesting track, starting with some peppy acoustic chords that melt into organ, bass, and drum accompaniment before combining with an electric sound. The vocals are just as catchy as the previous songs, but with the atmosphere created by the instruments, they take less of the spotlight. "Elevators Are Matchmakers" is solid evidence that this isn't the kind of album that fades out of catchiness a few tracks in... the vocals move perfectly with the instruments, with some of the catchiest lyrics on the album. Each drum beat is perfectly placed to contribute to the energy, providing just the right background to each mood.
"Scandals and Scoundrels" is a song that takes the record to a slightly darker place, revealing more of the fact that for all its poppy charms, If You Speak Any Faster is a fairly cynical album—regret and bitterness seem just as commonplace here as on Brand New's Your Favorite Weapon. Basslines for this track bathe in simplicity but are perfectly balanced with the ambience.
"The City" is very typical of June... nothing outstanding, just very fitting with everything already accomplished on the album. It has some of my favorite vocal twists, though, with some amazing harmonies and the catchiest lines you've heard this year. With "Invitations"... well, you better be a big fan of what you've heard so far, because June hasn't gone through too much change this record. I personally love the style they keep up so consistently, but admittedly, the record isn't as diverse as some could prove to be. The fairly lengthy guitar solo some two minutes into it is worth note, however, adding a bit of rocksome spice to this otherwise ordinary June song. "I Write B Movies"'s intro is a bit unique, and I'm not sure if I like it, but this is still a damn good track. The lyrics are outstandingly witty, and electronic sounds in the background of a few breakdown parts are a playful addition.
"You Had It Coming," of course, was June's breakthrough single. Re-recording it was a bit risky, and I was actually looking forward to hearing them redo it... but to be honest, I feel let down. The band recorded this track very confidently, seemingly knowing it's one of their best songs... it's been reworked a bit, but in a way that seems almost arrogant about the arrangement. Then the classic aspects of the song are handled steadily, almost easily, by the band who has most likely played and heard this song constantly since they composed it. If you've never heard this song before, I'm sure you'll love this track, but for me, I'll stick to my EP version, thank you very much.
The final track, "I've Got The Time If You Have The Argument," is not the strongest song on the record, but the lyrics are ironic for it being the ending song, so I applaud the choice. The rolling drums seem to inspire a lot of the chord progressions, and basslines are audible beneath the rest of the song. The guitar is careful, strategic, and smart. Vocals, as always, are catchy as can be. All in all, a great final track.
Anyone who thinks June has a great chance at hitting it big has a lot of good reasons to think so. Trailing close behind the talent-driven success of fellow Chicago kids Fall Out Boy, June's new release is an intelligent take on the poppy side of power-chord rock. I strongly recommend this to anyone who's a fan of this style, and I can't wait to see where this band plans on taking itself next.
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| IF YOU SPEAK ANY FASTER
1) Speak Up
3) OK Corral
4) My Side Of The Story
<< 5) Elevators Are Matchmakers >>
6) Scandals and Scoundrels
7) The City
9) I Write B Movies
10) You Had It Coming But This Time You're A Dead Man
11) I've Got The Time If You Have The Argument