We have a special treat for all you modern pop rock fans! Sam Pollard’s “Steps” is out, and we have a step-by-step review of not only each track, but the entire album! It’s available now on all leading retailers, so let’s drop the Spotify and get right into it, ain’t no time to waste!
Young Relaxed And Free
The song starts with a fun and catchy motif, mixing brass, guitar, and piano to make a catchy progressive kind of vibe. The violins join the frey, and then finally the vocals follow, like the main character in a stageplay following after the supporting cast. The catchiness is maintained throughout the song, and the clear influences from allstar acts like Queen are apparent as the chorus kicks into gear. The shift in musical style and tempo towards the end makes this especially apparent. ‘Young Relaxed And Free’ is an appropriate title for the piece, and it’s the perfect kind of track for summer in the city at the height of your youth.
The funky beat of this prog rock carries over from the first track, and will have you nodding your head. The chorus has the potential to get stuck in your head, and the catchy supporting brass will be sure to cement this as one of your new favourites! The guitar work takes clear inspiration from Paul McCartney, and the different elements of the song overall make for a fusion of styles and inspirations that’s sure to please anyone who’s into the genre! Sheer fun.
Oh What A Day
A bit more of an emotional song than the prior two, but still plenty of catchiness and classic rock riffs and tempo to go around here! You’ll still be nodding your head while thinking on the melancholy lyrics and melody, and perhaps have pause for thought once the good vibes of the somewhat upbeat song have passed. Missy Higgins would be proud of the presentation and style of this song, and the average listener will find themselves enraptured, as the bitter, exhausted themes of the song pass into an optimism that the grey skies will be gone soon.
The next track on the album is a bit more upbeat. More in the styles of Ben Folds Five, this brings in the classic style of cheery pop rock. The perfect song to follow up “Oh What A Day” with, this one isn’t too fast but also isn’t too slow. It isn’t too bombastic and cheery, but is instead an ease back into the typical style of the band, like the hills on the rise out of a mood-based valley. A necessary song for the album that keeps it all cohesive and flowing smoothly for a consecutive listen.
We got some of that mid 2000s vibe in this song, similar to the likes of Simple Plan and Green Day. Contrary to the quiet scene a title like “Library” might suggest, this song is the peak on the other side of the valley from prior. While all the songs have been of high quality, it’s undeniable that the mood has dipped from happy to somewhat melancholy, and now it’s skyrocketing back up to a pop punk kind of fun! Guaranteed to get your head nodding to the beat, maybe even put a smile on your face!
Following “Library” is a more relaxed, slower tempo track. Make no mistake, “Holiday” has the same heavy drums and fast vocals as the other work from Sam Pollard, but here it’s put towards a chill, jovial kind of mood. Very fitting of a track describing time off! It’s reminiscent of Crowded House, and is the perfect for a track you want to put on for a chill, fun time, but if you want something more upbeat and excited than typical acoustic pieces or Lo-Fi Hip Hop. Something less ambient and sleepy, something that the typical person might not put on to relax such as Lo-Fi, but something that fits the role just as well… and perhaps even better! Especially with the slow and melancholic tempo break near the end, symbolising the end of the holiday, and transitioning immaculately into the sombre and measured “Forever”.
Like a sudden shock of a holiday ending by the hand of tragedy, “Forever” follows one of the happier songs on the album and suddenly dips the mood all the way down. Dealing with heavy subjects such as death and loss, this is a passionate and isolated track that again hearkens back to Queen’s more wistful tracks. This is still rock, make no mistake, but an emotional track that expresses something deep in the heart of the song writers. The fact that it comes out of nowhere perfectly symbolises how sudden death can strike. One of the higher points of the album is ironically one of the sadder songs, and even at this low point, optimism stands firm with the message- “you’re not alone. You have to fight. To not would be a crime.”
Following on from the moody and sad “Forever”, a song with a title like “Distant Symphony” continues the theme, and is a natural progression. However, this theme is continued in mood alone, and not in style or tempo – this song kicks out of the gate with a funky filtered brass section followed by some aggressive guitar and piano riffs, reclaiming the energy from prior with a distinct air of determination. This song is edgy yet upbeat, resonating with emotion and steadfast resolve. The perfect answer for how to come out of a sombre point of the album without being too happy-go-lucky. This song is still fun and catchy, but it takes itself seriously.
Where Should We Go
This track starts with a subdued tone, and then like breaking the surface of water, it erupts into an upbeat song that you can jam to. With the melancholy series of tracks on and off throughout the album, intermixed with cheerful catchy tracks, this song surprises you with its title by dropping some optimism on you, rather than grim indecision. This is not a song about being lost and wondering where to go, rather this is a song about many options and potential avenues for success stretching out before you. “We know it’ll all be fine”, even though we don’t know “what happens now”.
Whoa, That’s Not Good
The brass stings in the opening key indicate a hint of danger, trouble on the horizon. Then a goofy, catchy beat overtakes it. The problem described isn’t as emotionally taxing as the scenarios outlined prior, but is really an impish tale of tomfoolery and gossip. Surprise! “I didn’t even think you could get away with that.” Perhaps the idea is to condition you to expect the worst topics involved with these songs, and then surprise you with something a little sillier, giving the message that things mightn’t be as bad as you’re expecting. Or maybe not. Either way, just as catchy and fun as the rest! Good, laid back rock.
The laid back vibe continues with one of the more relaxing up-tempo tracks on the entire album. A chill song with the theme of espionage, as is obvious from the title, with what could possibly be the catchiest brass section from any of the songs on the album. A fun song for the sake of being fun, which is a refreshing breath of air at times in today’s music industry.
Don’t Walk Away
Coming closer to the end of the album, and a bittersweet conclusion approaches. “Don’t Walk Away” is a romantic song about unrequited love and loneliness, with an optimistic happy ending. It’s a song about bad times, but bad times that have long since passed. A track about being in a better place… and of course, to see how different the better place is, the previous state of life has to be established. The gentle flowing piano acts as an excellent backing as the lyrics explore the ups, downs, and challenges of a relationship… but with the stipulation that not everything lasts forever. The bad times are gone, but they’ll be back. But until they return, the good times and the passions of the current day can be savoured together.
This Is The End
The bittersweet ending comes into full force, and to that end, this track’s title is appropriate to the theme. Albums ending on a bittersweet note are often fun and emotional, and this is no exception.<b> </b>As such, the finality in the tone of the music is clear to hear, as is the reluctance in the lyrics. This is a song about letting go, but also in a peaceful sense. Gently letting it go as age creeps up behind you. The end of the journey, a reflection of how far one has come, with the recognition of how far one has come. The song’s instrumental hearkens back to previous songs on the album with various stings, confirming that the album was meant to be a continuous story, feeding from one song to another. In the end, Sam Pollard can be proud of where he’s gone on this journey, just as the lyrics to this very song suggest.
This album is a trip into emotional exploration, with many detours into fun along the way. The lighthearted nature of the instrumental carries the album well and allows it to explore the themes it does without ever becoming too morbid or self indulgent. Following in the footsteps of artists like Ben Folds Five, Queen, Missy Higgins, Delta Goodrem, Martha Wainwright, Crowded House, Paul McCartney, Green Day, and even Simple Plan, Sam Pollard has taken inspiration, but not imitation, from the masterful work of his contemporaries and from those who set the standards before his time. With emotional highs and lows and catchy music all throughout, this set of Steps will take you up, down, and to new places. A journey worth taking for any fan of chill, catchy music and laid back modern pop rock!
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