I know that I came across Banquets a bit late, but I have been a fan of the Banquets since their self-titled album came across my desk a few years ago. And ever since then, I have waited for their releases and splits like I used to wait for bands in high school. They were the perfect balance of punk attitude and pop hooks. They were fucking infectious. They had the songs that you couldn’t help but turn way up, sing along, and smile.
When I heard that they were breaking up, I was bummed. The only two saving graces were A, the were putting out one last record, so fans (like me) could come to terms with the loss. And B, they will probably go on to other bands, that may create something amazing as well.
As a fan, I was excited to hear this collection of songs that would form their good bye. It s a bit of a loss when a band breaks up, it’s like a good friend moving away. As a reviewer, I wondered if I should even bother reviewing it. They are done- there will be no more new music to wait for, there will be no tour to go to, so is there a value to telling everyone about this music? Simply put, Yes, there is a tremendous value, at least for me. Not only is Spit at the Sun just too good to let fade into the background, but they gave us a final album, we should give them final press.
Overall the album sounds and feels a bit sadder, a bit heavier than the rest. It is still catchy but with a dash of somberness. The feel of it actually reminds me of, Bury Me Standing, that album that The Explosion released after they broke up. Maybe it is projection, or many these songs do reflect the end of a band.
Their music goes in a few new directions, some more indie some more rock and roll, but my favorites, the ones that I found stuck in my head as I was making dinner, are the ones that sound most like the Banquets we know and love. Lyrically the album is very cohesive. The music may be diverse, but the songs have a clear voice and message. All the songs on Spit at the Sun have a feeling of movement, of being dissatisfied about the present, accepting the imperfect past, and moving forward with uncertainty.
Forecaster is rock and roll song that kicks off the album with a ton of energy and the feeling of ambivalence and unrest, “this fear of leaving / this fear of staying gone”. Hell, Hello is a straight up Banquets style track. It is so fucking catchy that you can’t escape it (not that you would want to) with lyrics that look into the past, “All I know from my past life / is coming clear” and assess, “Hell, Hello, I’m worse for the wear / fuckin’ told you so, / told you so”.
Stop Signs in a Ghost Town and Oblivion are twangy with an early Gin Blossoms vibe to them. Stop Signs in a Ghost Town is a kind of good by to the fans, “This is the last time I try to make sense of this / cause this is the last song I sing / …and It was good”. The ending of the song layers, “it was good” with “the open road” behind to create a feeling of touring and the monotony of the highway. It is such a simple way to create a deeper level to the song. Oblivion takes us back to the desperation and dissatisfaction that was previously hinted at and cements that feeling. “I dug a grave / in the stereo I stake my claim / to leave this town behind / where comfort kept me locked up tight”.
No Rome is one of the few relaxed tracks. It is a rock and indie hybrid with a killer hook behind, “Give me danger in a well lit town”, which is such a charismatic way to phrase it. Piled High addresses the idea that we build a life out of items and we become dependant on them to feel alive, when in reality, we aren’t living at all. “A million memories around me / I haven’t lived a time or a single day / I carried it all for comfort and for existence”. Beauty is questioned and eventually dissected until it is pure nothing, “and if tomorrow’s a wound for the beautiful things / piled high to the roof / well leave a memory of me / to me this clutter is gold / it’s all I know / I’m still empty inside”.
Backwash is another very Banquets sounding track, solid pop punk with a cool guitar and awesome sing along section with layered vocals. I also just love the lines, “I find a way to run with the worthless / and learned to call it home”. So much so, that I am jealous that I didn’t write them. Lucky Lighter is the ballad, a seemingly sad track, that in reality is the one that offers the most lyrical hope, “Making forever out of everyday”. It is a bit haunting and a bit beautiful, the staggered yet layered vocals create such an infectious sound.
To Reminisce reminds me of 90s pop punk, the ones that were teetering on indie or emo, yet never quite crossed the line completely. I’ve Got a Scheme is the last track, but thematically I think it is a turning point, “I can’t change the past / or the lost time” “I’ve carved my name in places that I’ve barely slept / but I don’t remember”. Which then has us circle back to the need to move forward that the voice has been singing about for the whole album.
They are flexing their artistic muscles on this album, showing us a peek of any of the directions they can go. There are no bad tracks, every one of them has a great hook, passion, and heart, but my favorite two are the ones that sound most Banquets, Hell, Hello and Backwash. These are the ones I can’t stop singing. So, cheers to you, Banquets, it was fun.