Review || Columbus - "A Hot Take On Heartbreak"

Columbus is a three-piece pop rock band from Brisbane, Australia who released their sophomore LP, entitled "A Hot Take on Heartbreak", on May 25th 2018 through UNFD Records. In order to obtain some perspective, I am going to start off this review with a few words about "A Hot Take on Heartbreak" by the lead singer of the band, Alex Moses. He says, “On "Spring Forever" we went into the studio and did exactly what we wanted, but after touring that record and it coming time to do a new one, we realized that the music we wanted to play was distinctly different. We didn’t want to be a pop punk band anymore. We didn’t even want to be a punk band anymore. We wanted people to know us as a rock band”. I don’t tend to knock on bands for choosing to follow new paths in music, to experiment and try different things; what I do take notice of is how bands handle expressing that need to shift. I will come back to this notion.  
On its own, "A Hot Take on Heartbreak" is a super catchy pop rock record in the veins of anything that sounds like Weezer, All American Rejects and - mostly vocally - Good Charlotte, only with a terrible record title. The music is very simplistic, everything is carefully put together with emphasis on vocal melodies and harmonies in the choruses and, surprisingly enough, most of the tracks are diversely independent and can stand alone being completely memorable and distinctive. I caught myself wanting to keep going over it again and again. But then I did and suddenly the second half of "A Hot Take on Heartbreak" sounds repetitive and - yes - down right cheesy. See, it’s impossible to write ten über-hits on one record; not even the Beatles could pull this off. While "Don’t Know How to Act", "Care at All", "Worn Out This Week", "Feelin’ Low" and "Give Up" are instant stand out pop songs, "Woke Up With a Heart Attack", "Piece of Shit" and "Cut It Out" are evidence of trying too hard to write something catchy; that last song along with "Difficult Conversations" actually become the heavier and yet most emotional songs on the record, the latter only having a nice vibe to it. 
Then I remembered Alex Moses’ words “We didn’t even want to be a punk band anymore.” So, I decided to give "Spring Forever" - the band’s break out record of 2016 on the same label - a good listen and was blown away. That record is exactly down my alley; modern pop punk music done just right. Astounding as it is, this band can write some great music whether it’s a pop punk record or a pop rock record and even though one might think the word ‘pop’ is what brings these two genres together, in reality, the gap between "Spring Forever" and "A Hot Take on Heartbreak" is really a huge one. I can’t understand how a band decides to throw out the hard work they’ve done for one record and start clean slate fresh on exactly the next one, but in my head a smoother transition - as in blending all present elements of both ends- would have made for a landmark record with this second effort. Something to think about. 

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