Hallways

The Sophomore Attempt

Independent release, 2007

http://www.myspace.com/thesophomoreattempt

REVIEW BY: Greg Calhoun

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/13/2010

The now-defunct Jacksonville outfit The Sophomore Attempt, arrived in the mid-2000’s to a flooded emo pop and pop punk scene. With a plethora of groups like Fall Out Boy and The All-American Rejects dominating the charts, the Floridian quintet managed to stand out from the ranks of lookalike bands by penning catchy songs. Their hooks and Jeremiah Dunlap's smooth vocals landed them on the Warped Tour, a dream come true for the indie rockers. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The Sophomore Attempt's second album, Hallways, is an absolute success. With only one mediocre track in seven, Hallways consistently delivers memorable music. Opener "Forget The Competition" is propelled by jumping guitars and has a sing-along worthy chorus. The group creatively samples from the ambient sound genre with a slowdown bridge-chorus that defies normal pop-punk conventions. Next up, “Sky Command To Battlestations,” is more conventional but its chorus sticks with you. “I can’t imagine,” Dunlap sings in the best line, “Stamping on all your friends / Like they’re concrete, they’re not concrete / You’re gonna sink.” The fourth cut, “Two Can Play At That Game,” cannot go without mention. The song uses dynamics well and has the best verses and bridge on the album.    

But it’s the final two tracks that are the best on this record. "Get Me An Exit" has energy Red Bull can only dream of bottling. This breakup song drips with the spite that evolved between the two subjects. Songs like this one put The Sophomore Attempt on fan-generated lists of Warped Tour groups that will be sorely missed. While it isn't as clever "Two Can Play At That Game," it is straightforward enough to be the perfect single while saving a few tricks for the end in a scaled-back gang chorus just for the audience and an homage to the Wizard Of Oz.  The closing track, "The Turn," is a show-stealer as well. It is a sincere ballad, which can be hard to find in a genre full of snarky titles and obscure, oft-forced metaphors.

Very few seven-song albums deliver such consistency, not to mention three tracks that won't find their way out of your playlist. Hallways took its place on that short-list in 2007, and it represents for fans the best memento of a band that remains well-loved.

Rating: B+

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