People on Vacation, the unlikely pop-rock duo of Bowling For Soups Jaret Reddick and Smile Smile’s Ryan Hamilton, are back with their latest album, The Chronicles of Tim Powers. It’s an album of lyrical loss and heartache, wrapped up in cute, charming melodies and upbeat pop riffs that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
The mellow vibe of opener ‘Don’t Ask the Question’ has a chilled alternative feel, but with a short, sharp injection of pop-punk from vocalist Jaret Reddick that, for fans of Bowling For Soup, is impossible to ignore. This sound can also be heard hidden within ‘I Might Change My Mind’, with the na-na-na’s and a punchy chorus well-disguised by a veil of pure pop and even the odd electronic note here and there. The alternative indie-rock sound brought to the table by Ryan Hamilton is clear with songs such as- ironically- ‘Punk Rock World’ and ‘We All Want What We Can’t Have’. The bands home-grown roots also emerge throughout The Chronicles of Tim Powers, with the Texan twang of ‘You May Not Believe in God’ and ‘Journey to the End’ producing a surprising country twist.
While the pop-punk hooks, cool indie vibes and country charm have you smiling from ear to ear, you could easily miss the more painful, personal aspects of this album. People on Vacation aren’t a band who want to bring you down, but if you look just below that happy-go-lucky surface, there are some genuine sore spots in The Chronicles of Tim Powers. For example, ‘The Girl I Used To Love’ carries with it a true melancholy tone, only heightened by lyrics such as, “We stayed in this for the family, but the waters were too rough / To rescue what we thought we had, and save our fading love”. Similarly, ‘We Shoulda Made It’ is a song of romance, nostalgia and loss. But don’t worry, the mood is lightened by humour and mischievous lyrics, as is typical of this duo.
There is a quaint charm about this album that might surprise a few of you; it’s certainly not the in-your-face pop-punk or guitar-heavy indie-rock that you would expect from these two musicians. Instead, they bring something fresh to the table with The Chronicles of Tim Powers, making it one of this year’s best easy-going pop-rock albums.