The Calling: II

Jason MacNeil

The Calling


Label: BMG
US Release Date: 2004-06-08
UK Release Date: 2004-05-31

"If I could turn back time..." Oops, sorry, just remembering it was 4,213 times that I heard the Calling's "Wherever You Will Go." Yep, give or take 11 times! The band with the hook, chorus, and melody of the summer of 2002 is back with a new album. And like every other band that hits gold on its first go-around, II is more than likely bound to disappoint some people. But they would be in the vast minority here! That is for the first half offerings...

Singer Alex Band and guitarist Aaron Kamin spent a lot of time and effort ono making the dreaded sophomore album. From the opening notes of "One By One," they probably could've tossed this one aside for good. Kamin's guitar riff and the light, melodic yet melancholic sound is just one step removed from what you might see from "country" bands like Emerson Drive -- slick, polished arrangements that sound somewhat appealing but not that concrete and lacking some soul. It's basically something you've heard from Matchbox Twenty.

"Our Lives" brings to mind their hit song with a slow-building style that Band takes control over after Kamin offers some decent riffs and another fine hook that is ideal for saying the hell with one's hair and taking down the convertible roof. The brief moments before the chorus are a tad arduous but worth the brief wait! Another strong point is the bridge that the Calling doesn't throw away like so many other new groups do. Band sounds quite strong here and they fully flesh out the conclusion, which never ever hurts. From there an anthem-like U2 opening starts "Things Will Go My Way", which then veers into more of a power ballad à la Creed without that annoying pompous characteristic. The song comes apart at the seams though in the bridge as Band and company decide to raise the rock bar with less-than-impressive outcomes.

Perhaps the greatest trait to this record is that one gets the impression that last record wasn't a one-shot wonder, as more meaty hooks are thrown out during the gorgeous and limb-moving, slow-galloping "Chasing The Sun". "She's like a sweet summer, a sweet summer day / And I can't let her, I can't let her go to waste," Band sings as Josh Freese makes a guest appearance pounding the skins. The reflective "Believing" takes the album down too far, though, and is the polar opposite of the previous song, perfect adult contemporary pop, but at the same time relatively safe and edgeless. It's the type of song that you might listen to toweling off in a shower but that you wouldn't run out to the local record shop to seek out. Again the U2 overtones are discerned quite easily on the strong "Anything" that brings to mind "Beautiful Day" in some respects. "I will be there to catch you when you fall down," Band sings as harmonies are layered on top.

All albums tend to have their complete, head-shaking clunkers, and II has its on the slower, quasi-soulful "If Only". It's a tune that's best left to blues-based bands and not groups who opt for strings and a classical-tinted angle. Band tries his best to sell the song with decent vocals but it's not nearly enough to make the grade. They don't get out of this rut with the bland and uninspired "Somebody Out There", which sounds like a replica of the previous horrid apathetic ditty. "Surrender" is a tad better and more patio pop or up-tempo oriented with its quirky, Dave Matthews-like backbeat. Ditto for "Dreaming In Red"! By this time it sounds as if the Calling were trying to do their best to distance themselves from the proverbial side one that had the hooks. Here the melody is the pseudo-king but not that often.

The Calling found their calling in making shiny, shimmering, and glistening pop rock radio nuggets. Don't screw with the blueprint, guys...




Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Little Protests Everywhere

Wherever you are, let's invite our neighbors not to look away from police violence against African Americans and others. Let's encourage them not to forget about George Floyd and so many before him.


Carey Mercer's New Band Soft Plastics Score Big with Debut '5 Dreams'

Two years after Frog Eyes dissolved, Carey Mercer is back with a new band, Soft Plastics. 5 Dreams and Mercer's surreal sense of incongruity should be welcomed with open arms and open ears.


Sondre Lerche Rewards 'Patience' with Clever and Sophisticated Indie Pop

Patience joins its predecessors, Please and Pleasure, to form a loose trilogy that stands as the finest work of Sondre Lerche's career.


Ruben Fleischer's 'Venom' Has No Bite

Ruben Fleischer's toothless antihero film, Venom is like a blockbuster from 15 years earlier: one-dimensional, loose plot, inconsistent tone, and packaged in the least-offensive, most mass appeal way possible. Sigh.


Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.


Reaching For the Vibe: Sonic Boom Fears for the Planet on 'All Things Being Equal'

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a veteran of 1980s indie space rockers Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, E.A.R., and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff. On his first solo album in 30 years, he urges us all to take our foot off the gas pedal.


Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.


Inventions' 'Continuous Portrait' Blurs the Grandiose and the Intimate

Explosions in the Sky and Eluvium side project, Inventions are best when they are navigating the distinction between modes in real-time on Continuous Portrait.


Willie Jones Blends Country-Trap With Classic Banjo-Picking on "Trainwreck" (premiere)

Country artist Willie Jones' "Trainwreck" is an accessible summertime breakup tune that coolly meshes elements of the genre's past, present, and future.


2011's 'A Different Compilation' and 2014 Album 'The Way' Are a Fitting Full Stop to Buzzcocks Past

In the conclusion of our survey of the post-reformation career of Buzzcocks, PopMatters looks at the final two discs of Cherry Red Records' comprehensive retrospective box-set.


Elysia Crampton Creates an Unsettlingly Immersive Experience with ​'Ocorara 2010'

On Ocorara 2010, producer Elysia Crampton blends deeply meditative drones with "misreadings" of Latinx poets such as Jaime Saenz and Juan Roman Jimenez


Indie Folk's Mt. Joy Believe That Love Will 'Rearrange Us'

Through vibrant imagery and inventive musicality, Rearrange Us showcases Americana band Mt. Joy's growth as individuals and musicians.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.