Don’t blame Mayday Parade for being unable to escape the shadow of former front man Jason Lancaster (who, incidentally, recently released the first proper full-length with his new band, Go Radio). However, one could reasonably blame the band for attempting to re-hash a few fan favorites from Lancaster’s days with its new acoustic EP, Valdosta. It’s not that the acoustic takes on “Jamie All Over” and “Your Song” are unlistenable, it’s just that some things are better left alone. Valdosta features four of the band’s past tracks stripped down, along with two brand new songs, which will likely be included on Mayday Parade’s upcoming full-length this summer.
Valdosta’s opening track, “Amber Lynn”, is catchy enough, pairing up a nice melody with improved songwriting from vocalist Derek Sanders. “Terrible Things” finds the band playing a sad piano ballad very much in the same vein as its popular track “Miserable at Best”. While there are several songs from Mayday’s 2009 release, Anywhere But Here, that would have lent nicely to an acoustic makeover, the band chose two songs that seem much more forced than natural on this offering. “Kids in Love”, once an upbeat, summer pop song, now sounds slow and uneventful, and even the addition of a violin can’t save “Bruised and Scarred” from its stale songwriting.
The good news about this EP lies in the sound of the two new tracks, which show a lot of promise, especially in the vocal performances of Sanders. These two songs find the band capturing some of the emotional bite that made past releases so memorable. If nothing else, Valdosta should be enough to hold over fans until the new album is released.