Transit – Keep This To Yourself (album)

Transit - Keep This To Yourself coverMy initial impressions of Boston outfit Transit’s second album were not positive: whilst I’m not familiar with their past output I am all too familiar with glossy but derivative punk rock. It’s unfair to judge a band before you’ve given them a thorough chance, of course, but I’ve heard enough identikit songs from identikit bands with identikit haircuts and morally vacant lyrics to last me a lifetime.

It’s also unfair, though, because of the signifiers I use to quickly identify and avoid such bands. One such giveaway is overly slick production, which I tend to be quite suspicious of, whereas by contrast production that’s more rough and ready – even if that’s a deliberately affected choice rather than the result of limited resources – I tend to have an affinity for. There’s also a certain vocal style that I pretty much blame Saves the Day and Taking Back Sunday for, and it’s plenty evident here. It’s not a style I invariably dislike, it’s just one that a few years back (when emo-cribbing melodic hardcore was all the rage, before easycore and metalcore shot up the trend meter) was another obvious signifier of a band hopping on a bandwagon.

That’s not to say Transit are guilty of anything more than having a style that reminds me of things I don’t like. There are numerous obvious flaws with attempting to pre-judge music in this way, but where no one person has a hope of even listening to a tiny fraction of all released music it’s a necessary evil.

Happily, despite my initial prejudice I’ve found elements of Keep This To Yourself that I can enjoy, and on repeat listens I’ve not only developed a closer affinity to the songs on offer, I’ve also gained increasing respect for the band’s talents.

Let’s start with the best: ‘Please Head North’ is an urgent, driving tune that reminds me of Polar Bear Club (see, now there’s a band that also match my ‘Shaun dislikes this’ signifiers but I actually like a lot). In addition to those slick, slightly nasal vocals there are some gruffer backing vox and plenty of woahs; it’s a pretty decent punk rock anthem, truth be told. Elsewhere ‘Footwork’ demonstrates that the band have some technical and songwriting chops, with dual guitars intertwining simple lead licks and riffs, multiple driving sets of vocals and well-timed hangs and chugs. There are smaller, subtle moments that I like too, such as the use of a delay effect to perfectly match staccato chorus rhythms in ‘Hope This Finds’.

There are moments when the band lyrically impress, too, as with ‘Our New Year’ which is about memories of an ex ruining favourite songs and places. Memory is psychological geography, after all, and it’s always cool to see bands grappling with emotional baggage on a deeper level than “I got dumped, I feel bad”. And, similarly, when you’re writing love songs it can be really cool to play with the inverse concept, as Transit have done with ‘Love, ___’, which recounts the story of growing up alongside and falling in love with someone by addressing itself both to person and place.

So, yeah. We should all sometimes ignore those initial impressions. If you’ve ever dug this early-00s style of earnest romanticore, if you’ve ever found anything to like in the finest bands ploughing this furrow, then give Transit a go because, like me, you may be pleasantly surprised.

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