Local band Good Luck had my heart in 2008 with the band’s debut release Into Lake Griffy, the album was fun, exciting, intense, and everything a first album should be, an introduction to a band with an incredible future ahead of it. The band took its precious time between then and now, touring, slowly writing and performing new tracks, and living life. Finally, the pop-punk trio (Ginger Alford-bass/vocals, Mike Harpring-drums, Matt Tobey-vocals/guitar) has put it all together to give fans what they’ve asked for with its new album Without Hesitation, released November 22 via No Idea Records.
From the album’s start the first descriptor that comes to mind is “mature”, and that is not to say that previous releases from the band were in any way juvenile, but from the first line “Do you think we had it back then? We’ve been relieved by the youth we used to be in our day”, the Good Luck present on Without Hesitation sounds older, wiser, and bolder than ever. The opening track “All Good People” framed around Matt Tobey’s vocals and guitar picks up right where contemplative tracks like “Man On Fire” and “Hey Matt” leave off on Into Lake Griffy. It makes one both sympathize with and fear the thoughts running around in Tobey’s head, as they are the same ones that haunt us all.
“All Good People” is followed by two fast, beat-heavy tracks, “Our Mess, Our Mark” and “The Others” which feature the impressive musicianship fans have grown comfortable with. Alford’s bold but never over-powering bass playing, Harpring’s solid drum work that pulls everything together, and Tobey’s amazing ability to seamlessly provide both a solo and rhythm guitar. Alford has one of my favorite voices, and her ability to provide a tone that is both lovely and intensely emotional at the same time always amazes me. I don’t just want to sing along, I want to scream at the top of my lungs.
Next, up we are brought to the fourth and fifth tracks “Novel Figure” and “Decider“, two songs that were featured on the band’s digital e.p. Demonstration 2010 last year. Both songs were re-recorded for their final version and sound even stronger. The added vocals in the chorus of “Decider” add an other-worldly pleasantness to the tune, as does the addition of subtle piano parts and swirling guitar in the last chorus. It’s often hard for bands to bring already released songs to speed in an album, but these tracks were given careful care and new breath for a renewed sound and deserving place on this album.
Alford’s folksy lyrics and guitar immediately drew my attention to “A Song To Comfort The Sick“, which reminds me so much of everything I loved about “1001 Open Hands” on Griffy, it’s a song that gives strength through personal experience and support. It’s an encouraging song that reminds us all that it can be hard to be there for friends time and time again, but most of the time we’d rather be there in the time of need than to miss out on the opportunity to help. This song seems like a song I could easily find on a Kimya Dawson album, it warmed my heart like a security blanket. Which makes it the perfect song to precede “Contact”.
“Contact” is another Demonstration 2010 song and it resonated well with me from the first time I heard Tobey sing it. The chorus fits so well with the last year of my life, finishing college, wondering what’s next, thinking about people I’ve met in the last four years who have come and gone, or how Facebook allows me to think of and semi-connect with people I haven’t seen since I was a child. When you really sit down and think of all of the people and experiences that have passed through your life, it’s overwhelming. What marks have we already made on this world and in the lives of others? The instrumental phrases in this song are perfect, swelling and building to intensity with all the questions, and then finding solace and relief in the response: “So use simple expressions to explain what you can. Cause you’ll never be able to see past your hand.”
The last few tracks of the album showcase more of the band’s musical growth, songs that don’t remind me of their past work, but point to where the band is heading. “The Story, Rewritten” is a steady track held up by Alford’s vocals, Tobey’s melody-heavy guitar playing, and a weighted 3/4 time signature. It’s followed up by “Impossible” which features Harpring’s drumming in all it’s glory. It’s a shock Harpring doesn’t need a nap after every song, but with this particular track he is playing in marathon mode, all over the set and cymbals throughout the verses, and then suddenly sliding into short concise beats to mimic brief vocal pauses and the slower bridge section of the song.
“It Gets Harder” is another marathon song that takes unexpected turns. Featuring doubled vocals from Alford and Tobey, straight 4/4 rhythm and layered guitar, it starts out as a sing-along, jump-along track that I can easily see being a crowd favorite. I particularly love the breakdown at about 2:06 that falls down to Tobey on guitar and vocals and begins to build, adding in more instruments and growing both sonic and emotional intensity, then Alford joins in with a contrasting line and the song becomes a sound chamber of competing lyrics. Instead of then coming together in a huge climactic finish, the song flows into the instruments and finishes.
The album concludes with “Significant Day“, a rhythm-heavy track that is unlike anything I’ve ever heard from the band. It has a more alt-rock style to it and constantly jumps in dynamics, which gives it a hard-hitting intensity. A song about facing what life throws at you, a line that sticks out is “Every shortcut will eventually be blocked, so throw on the shoes and just start to walk.”
Without Hesitation is everything I could have hoped for in a new release from Good Luck. Watching this band develop over the last four years has been one of best experiences of my time here in Bloomington, and although it was a long wait for their next album, the end result is proof that it was the right step. These songs carry so much of what this band has become and what is still yet to come. Good Luck is a band of strong songwriters and musicians and that kind of talent needs time to work out what its creative ideas, and truth be told, the time just did them a favor by creating super demand for a new release. Trusting their sound with Mike Bridavsky’s (Russian Recording) capable hands once again presents the band sounding their best in the studio. Without Hesitation is a cure for the craving and exceeds expectations.