Westway has been dropping a few songs here and there to give listeners a growing discography before dropping their debut LP (hopefully coming soon). This EP features three songs: “Trading Water,” “Blood & Smoke,” and “Halloween ’91.”
In previous reviews, I’ve commented on how Westway has made music in their point of view in Pop Punk music. Hearing about this release, I was excited to see what parts and styles of their music have evolved, what nuances were going to be included, and to see how the band’s vision as a unit has continued. Listening to this EP, it can be said that my jaw hit the floor, and this very well may be my favorite EP of 2021.
Westway’s third EP “PC” includes musical nuances that can be found in their other releases; however, the general feel of this record is a lot more laid back. Personally, I enjoyed this approach as it allowed for the instrumentals and lyrics to truly soar over the soundscape they create throughout each track. The best way to describe the overall sound would be the approach of a Jazz Combo with standard Pop Punk vocals and instrumentation. You know, extremely groovy and funky, but also a little edgy. Now, that may be a lot to take in, but the EP is truly better in action.
One of the most admirable parts of this EP is how each part complements the other through a variety of musical techniques. “Trading Water” presents moments of call and response between instrumental parts, which then merges to meet with the vocal line. This allows for both parts to hold the melody- creating a simply yet polyphonic texture that matches the overall mood of the selection. The chorus resonates with the adapted swing pattern in the drum part, which helps to bolster the Jazz combo approach for the EP. Also, that bass? Everything.
Moving into “Blood & Smoke,” the mood sudden shifts to this cooler- grooving in the pocket- vibe. For this track, the moments where the instrumentals and the vocals come together to emphasize certain moments of the lyrics comes across in such a direct manner that it helps to create a nice balance between the melodic and harmonic moments of the selection. The inclusion of the soft horn interjections in the background are subtle, but they add to the overall soundscape to keep the momentum of the piece moving forward. Also, not trying to spoil anything but- that dialed back instrumental interlude: chills!
The last song, “Halloween ’91” is a perfect culmination track as it features the building techniques from the other selections. I love how Westway introduces the melodic line from the beginning through the instrumentals before adapting it for the lyrical line. This song, for me, is the track, where you can truly focus on how the instrumentals and the melodic lyrical line connect until it bursts to the climactic point of the EP to bring it all to a phenomenal close. This selection provides contrast with the same initial approach to the song- being a bit more reserved- until it goes for it at the end. The way that the end is approached and left creates an immersive effect that just transcends the listener into the work.
In general, on this album that has the foundational feel of being a bit more relaxed, the instrumentals truly grind into their parts, where they are truly ripping it, which reminds me of taking a solo over a chorus like one does in Jazz. I know I keep returning to this theme, but it is so spectacular to me to see the similarities. Not only did they use these approaches, but they spun it to make it Pop Punk. I didn’t even think that was possible! (If you need a trumpet player- I am classically trained!)
If you are not listening to Westway- you should be: I am giving this EP 5 out of 5 stars.
*”PC” was self-released on October 1st, 2021.