NOVICE-NOVICE-EP 2007 [Rock/Emo/Punk] Hollister,California,United States

Recommended If You Like: Saosin, Park, drinking Kentucky Deluxe in a pick-up truck, Bayside, making movies about the 1980's

Despite what I witnessed at a recent Trophy Scars show (in which I stuck out like a sore thumb), there weren’t many kids jamming to the same tunes as me during high school. However, I wouldn’t let something as subjective as musical taste stop me from cramming each of my new “favorite” bands down my peers unsuspecting throats. I had been 1/1000 (Tell All Your Friends, yo) until I stumbled across Novice’s “My Last Breath.” I became the ambassador of those perfectly juvenile tunes, and if we all still attended the same school, the Novice EP would be receiving huge fanfare. Since such acclaim would require me talking to those people regularly, nothing happened, no fireworks or parades of any kind. Well, this review could still catch on fire. Ta-da!

After the similarly low-key release of last year's Forgive The Silence, Novice return after a small break with a five song EP. The band has achieved the polished, melodramatic pop sound trying to peak through in Forgive. No screaming of any kind will be found here, but Mike Gross’ vocals sound effortlessly clean. His delivery feels nonchalant, yet the urgency of prior releases is still prevalent.

Novice EP isn’t full of experimental songs and confusing structures/tempos/lyrics/etc and sometimes that’s just fine. I like knowing the intentions of a band. I know Novice has struggled with this scene and a need (want or desire, you decide) to bring their music to a larger audience. And though this statement isn’t meant as an ultimatum, if “What Have We Become” doesn’t bring them legions of new fans, nothing will. Snares and retching guitars shadow Gross as he beautifully frees his voice of all restraint. If this is the sound of truly unsigned music, we’ve gone astray.

Each song gently bends Novice’s formula. “Dancing In The Dark” focuses on distorted guitars and toe-tappin’ cymbals. “The Cure” has ironically uplifting vocal melodies and a pitchy guitar solo. Still, the main road is never out of sight; nothing ever feels like a misstep. Novice have found a sound worthy of their talent.