The Turn is the fourth album from Seattle’s Amber Pacific, and it marks two special occasions. One, it drops on the band’s 10th anniversary. Two, it marks the return of original vocalist Matt Young, who bailed on the outfit following 2007’s Truth in Sincerity. To celebrate, the group brought in some friends and former tour mates to help out with the recording, which features guest turns from Mike Herrera (MxPx) and Alex Gaskarth (All Time Low). Despite all of this, The Turn is less a return to form than it is a celebration of the pop punk sound. There’s little that’s original, but that doesn’t mean that the album isn’t enjoyable. It’s just that The Turn doesn’t ignite as it should, despite some variety and upshifts in sound: opening track “Undone” features a breakneck tempo change during the refrain. “Next to Me” is a lovely acoustic ballad. And it’s hard to dismiss the manic punk energy of “Safe for Now”. And, yet, the songs on the record have a habit of all sounding precisely the same, which causes a sense of sonic fatigue before you get towards the end of the disc.
Still, fans might be clamouring for this record, which comes in a standard edition and a deluxe version (which features acoustic and alternate versions of songs found on the album, though this wasn’t made available to critics). It’s hard to deny that Amber Pacific is a force to be reckoned with, and I almost feel as though I have to apologize for not being taken by The Turn. However, the similarity of much of the material does weaken the strength of the disc, and, to be honest, Young’s vocals are nothing to really write home about. It’s that whiney pop punk style of delivery, and you can go two ways about it. You’ll either be appeased that Young hews to tradition, or you might be annoyed that he doesn’t help levitate the songs beyond being rote. That all said, Amber Pacific has been around for 10 years for a reason, and those who love bands who would be at home on the Vans Warped Tour will be pleased with this LP. It’s too bad that the material is so paint-by-numbers, but there’s a time and place for that sort of thing, and if you’re looking for a reason to party, well, Amber Pacific prove that there’s a reason or two to have a good time here.