Philadelphia born rockers Valencia have re-joined isurrender records to release their well awaited third album ‘Dancing With A Ghost’.
With previous release ‘We All Need A Reason To Believe’ cementing its place as one of my favourite albums of 2008; I was excited to hear more of the catchy melodies and anthemic tunes which have made this band pop punk royalty.
For those of you hoping to hear the same, prepare to be taken aback as Valencia have taken their music in a whole new direction this time around; slowing down the tempo and writing deep and meaningful lyrics.
Cue ‘Still need you around (I’m lost without you)’ which is without a doubt the most emotional song on the album. It reflects on the importance of family and coming to terms with the realisation that they aren’t going to be around forever.
Lyrics like “I’m tired now and my mind wont quit, since I got the news that you were sick”, strongly imply that the main inspiration for this song was drawn from lead singer Shane Henderson’s mother’s diagnosis with cancer.
Having just the piano accompaniment and hand claps complimenting the soft vocals allows you to fully concentrate on the heartfelt lyrics.
Although personal experience has brought about a deeper, darker side to this album; Valencia’s title track ‘Dancing with a Ghost’ displays the typical warm melodies and unforgettable chorus that these 5-piece pop punkers are well known for.
This song could easily be grouped in the same category as ‘The Space Between’ which is undoubtedly the most popular song to date. With the infectious hooks and punchy lyrical build up, this is THE tune you will be humming for the rest of the day(you have been warned!).
However, follow on song ‘Spinning Out’ sticks in your head for an entirely different reason. The rhythm section really shreds in the chorus making it one of the most powerful songs on the album. It has many different layers from piano; to strings to percussion which all compliment each other effectively.
It also shows how diverse the band has become this time around by really experimenting to create a different sound with each song. The sixth track on the album. ‘Friday night’, is no exception as, again, it shakes up the mood by debuting the bands aggressive but theatrical side.
The introduction displays an entirely different vibe to any other song on the album with the synth sounds creating a feel of horror and mystery. The sharp electric guitar riffs mix well with the blunt lyrics such as “I guess I fucked up! I guess I was wrong” and shows that the band are challenging typical pop punk styles and doing it well.
End track ‘Stop searching’ would be an incredible track to play in an arena setting as not only does the music strike you with the vigorous double time drum solo on the chorus, but the powerful intensity of Henderson’s voice really comes through on this. I was blown away.
It is a shame not all the tracks on this album have the same effect, with ‘Somewhere I Belong’ and ‘Consider Me Dead’ appearing to slip through the net. Both tracks seemed to drag on emotionlessly and I found them slightly mundane.
Aside from the few poorly executed songs, ‘Dancing with a Ghost’ is definitely an album to be heard. The diversity displayed in most of the tracks are very rarely seen in the pop punk genre and not only did Valencia dare to try it but they pulled it off extremely well with songs ‘Stop Searching’ and ‘Losing Sleep’ arguably being two of their best to date. They have definitely proven why they are at the top of their game. The gamble payed off.