Around the release of their debut album Good Luck in 2014, Decade sold themselves on their then-recent spell of misfortunes, managing to turn it all around and make some waves in the scene. But following a long period of radio silence, they’re finally back with follow-up Pleasantries. And while the wait, it has definitely been worth it. The angular, DIY edge found on Good Luck has been sanded down, resulting in the quintet’s most professional-sounding release yet. There’s more focus on the pop side of their sound throughout too, something opener Human Being showcases from the word “go” with its earworm chorus and the “la la la”s in its bridge. While Good Luck had shining choruses, they were somewhat hidden beneath distortion from Decade’s trademark crunchy guitars. The sleek production on Pleasantries manages to reverse this, making the vocal contribution the star of the show, while the guitars take something of a backseat rather than play an equal part.
Speaking of the vocals on this record, singer Alex Sears has come along in leaps and bounds in the years spent making it. It’s far more controlled and powerful than it once was, so much so that listening to it becomes a bit addictive. On Peach Milk alone he goes from tantalising falsettos (proving the higher end of his range should definitely be explored more often) to belting out the chorus in the most stunning way. And it’s not just Sears. On the whole, the entire band seem to sound far tighter than ever before, hinting at the much bigger leagues Decade could advance to soon.
While previous Decade releases have been lumped in with the pop punk scene, Pleasantries shows some definite influence from further afield, especially instrumentally. Sunbeam’s riff could be from a Red Hot Chili Peppers album, Peach Milk’s from Radiohead, and the guitar solo towards the end of Geist alone is completely telling of the scope of inspiration that went into this. It gives the album more depth, as well as effortlessly giving their genre a fresh coat of paint – Decade aren’t actively trying to take on a clichéd band persona, giving them a lot more weight than ROAM and Trash Boat’s one-dimensional, overtired rehashes. Along with that, there’s a sparkle, a real sense of enjoyment and character that also elevates them from their peers. Can’t Figure You Out alone is enough to illustrate this, acting as a simply perfect rock song that’s everything a pop-punk band today should aspire to make. Of course, not every foray into more experimental territory pays off. Wasted’s focus on the anecdotal lyrics is a good idea in theory, but being paired with plodding instrumentals makes it lose a significant amount of life. Brand New Again and mostly stark closer Capsules have the same issue (aside from the latter’s cathartic burst into a full-band effort).
Ultimately though, these aren’t reputation-killing gripes. What Decade have here is a special record – one that should end the ‘up-and-coming’ labels and finally get them the step-up they’ve shown they deserve. Pleasantries is a huge breath of fresh air in such a repetitive, unoriginal scene, and most importantly, it’s shown that Decade don’t need to rely on good luck anymore – they have the talent to continue on by themselves.
For fans of: Lower Than Atlantis, Save Your Breath, Me Vs Hero
Words by Georgia Jackson
‘Pleasantries’ by Decade is released on 24th February on Rude Records.