[14 August 2007]
If first impressions are as important as people say, Green River Ordinance seems a band destined for mainstream success. Just two projects into their young career, the quintet is making a habit of releasing immaculately produced material with a wealth of heart. Listing bands like Matchbox 20, Tonic, and Switchfoot as influences, the group maintains a predominantly upbeat pop/rock sound, complete with huge hooks, sincere vocals and driving guitar passages which allow both electric riffs and plaintive acoustic figures to share instrumental focus; the band would certainly fit in well with the current crop of melody makers tearing up multiple radio formats, bands like Augustana and the Fray. Green River Ordinance first displayed their penchant for writing songs with a doubly effective formula of infectious energy and catchy refrains on their 2005 debut, The Beauty of Letting Go. “Speak through Me” showcased the band’s ability to address deeper topics of spirituality and purpose while songs like “Waiting for a Sign” and “Breath of Life” best displayed their melodic talents. Unfortunately, the band fell into traps that kept the album from being an unqualified success; their work plagued by stock lyrical expressions and an inability to present enough distinctive qualities to distinguish the group from their influences or certain tracks from each other. On their latest release, the group has largely addressed these issues; the EP format allows their work to retain more potency and there is greater distinction between tracks, allowing the album’s best material to shine all the more brightly. While there are no truly weak moments on Way Back Home , cuts like “Sleep It Off” and “Beauty of Letting Go” retain a chorus-driven vibe while the band mixes in more compelling guitar features and rhythmic heartbeats which make these songs album highlights.