We were young once. As former young people, and former young musicians at that, we can hear the traits of a high school band from a mile away. Today, that band is Classifyde, a New Jersey pop rock group with their self-titled EP. There’s some power pop, indie pop and some alt. rock among others, thrown together across six songs for what we can only describe as a misguided debut release. The notion isn’t that Classifyde are bad musicians. Lord knows myself and fellow writer/music industry deplorable Jason Greenberg (with whom I bring you this written display of split personalities) were making worse shit at their age, but Classifyde shows some serious growing pains.
This EP kicks off with “You’re Not Even Real.” This opener is the shortest of the five tunes but displays the lack of restraint that plagues Classifyde as a whole. There’s some decent guitar work, particularly in the tail end of the song, and some not-great-but-not-terrible vocals throughout, but this song could have benefited greatly from its runtime being cut in half. “Race 4 Existence” has a similar problem. Sure, it’s a fun enough tune, but it just doesn’t need to be pushing four minutes if Classifyde have shot their wad halfway through. Again, these young cats are not bad musicians, but the band’s repetitive style of songwriting leaves a lot to be desired.
“Fazz” is an odd track for me. I wouldn’t call it a bad song by any means, but this kinda bluesy, kinda jazzy, instrumental sticks out like a sore thumb when thrown in amongst coffee shop rock like “She Will Be Beautiful” or “Moonwalk.” I’m all for blending different genres, but there’s a more tasteful way to do it. Classifyde are certainly showing off their instrumental skills on this track, but it’s just that – showing off. My hope for their future efforts (and I do hope there are future efforts from these fellas) is that they take these skills and utilize them into something a bit more tasteful and interesting.
I truly believe in paying respect where respect is due, and these felines most definitely deserve a little hat tip for their bravery, not only for writing and recording this effort, but for having the fortitude with which to ask our grumping fucking opinions on it. As my flattest-land natured compatriot has already mentioned however, there are growing pains here. This Beatles meets Alkaline Trio (Justin: “don’t drag Alkaline Trio into this”) meets “insert your favorite 70’s era hippy band here” attempt at songwriting has been done and is typically the first of many signs of a band’s youth, both in togetherness and in, well, age. It’s a sign that a group of friends made an effort to learn the basic capabilities of their craft and figured they’d do the retro thing at the bare minimum and reach rock stardom.. It worked for Greta Van Fleet, didn’t it?
I digress, there are three key issues with this piece, two of which have already been mentioned. The first being songwriting where, as Justin has already mentioned, should have been cut in half and, in some cases, in quarters. These songs drag long past their digestibility considering their vast simplicity (“She Will Be Beautiful” displays this, even though the attempt at pretty ambience is appreciated). The second is musicianship. These songs are nice and could make for a great moment in the score of a teenage romcom (see “The Man Far Away” for example), but instead, they painfully display the stage with which each member of this band is at in terms of their knowledge of how their instrument works in the fields of diversity, structure, and execution. Basically, the strings need tone work, the vocals need maturity and further exploration into their limits, and the drums are very stock, which if you’re into, then mazel tov.
As Justin previously mentioned, there’s absolutely moments of attempting to show off, however I felt like this only inflamed my point further. What could easily have been a redeeming point, is the recording quality. The vocal section carries clarity (despite their shortcomings in terms of notations), the string section has moments of boldness but redundancies, and the drum section is so dry it chaffs. Think of an attractive member of the sex of your choice, now add the characteristic that they shit themselves every time they sneeze (Justin: “you’ve got to stop using this as your go-to analogy”). There are strong points and perplexingly weak points, both of which stand out in their own right.
By no means do we feel as if these green horned New Jerseyans should give up (Justin: “correctamundo”).This was an ambitious move on this act’s part. There’s promise in these songs and a clear amount of drive that can be hard to find in new and fresh bands. As previously mentioned, neither Justin nor myself had songs on fucking Spotify or submitted our recorded efforts (if we even had them) to publications for review, though I’m sure we both thought we were going to be gods. That flame should be fanned by the winds of getting a fucking teacher and growing into musicians that eat, sleep, and shit with the sole purpose of wanting to be better and unique, or at least better than somebody else doing the same fucking thing. All of this to say, we both found potential here, but as my darling Saskatonian would likely say, “boy howdy, they’ve got a ways to go.” (Justin: “lots of people say ‘boy howdy,’ it’s quaint”). Lesson being, crawl before you walk, walk before run, but at least keep trying.
Written by Jason Greenberg & Justin Bruce
*Edited by Dominic Abate