Based in London, UK, the pop-punk trio Cuecliché owe their composition to a series of online advertisements that eventually connected three folks who share a love of music and a refusal to grow up. By the time bassist and lead guitarist Terry Rytz and guitarist Jake Leigh melded their respective lyrics and music in the form of “One Last Chance” and “10th of July,” drummer Keith Hackett stepped in, adding a further element of speed and urgency. Released in March, 2017, One Last Chance is their debut EP that features five polished tracks that sound like they are the result of considerable time and effort.
To be frank, I find the vocals of the skate-punk era, whose wave crested with bands like The Offspring, to be more like three-quarters whine, one-quarter actual singing than anything else. In the case of Cuecliché, I think the whine is salvaged in the name of melody. One Last Chance has no shortage of choruses composed of cheesy harmonies which are topped off by multi-layered, offset backup vocals that take more away from the tracks than they contribute.
I’ve said this before, and will unfortunately say it again: I truly dislike crapping on the creative energy of people who deserve kudos for putting both themselves, and the heart and soul that their music derives from, out there. So please, for those of you who get a kick out of skate pop punk, take my assessment with a grain of salt. For my own sake I have to be honest, and while 16-year-old me may have been more inclined to like an album like this, in my current state I just can’t get into it.
That being said, I’d like to set aside my grudge with the vocals and get back to the energy Cuecliché demonstrate throughout the EP; here lies a promising avenue for development. What One Last Chance lacks in diversity, it makes up for in sheer raw energy. Even though the five tracks contain very little variance, this can be, and is, a redeeming quality. Taken individually, members Terry Rytz, Jake Leigh and Keith Hackett are solid musicians that come together in a way you might expect of long time friends who have been through some shit and get each other musically. Whether it is the riffs, short but sweet solos, or wicked fast rhythm section dominated by Hackett’s aggressive percussion, instrumentally One Last Chance is actually a good listen.
The closest Cuecliché come to harnessing this energy is the heavier track “10th July.” Here too though, you want to pick ‘em up, shake ‘em, and give ‘em something to be angry about, just to see what would happen musically. Tracks like “Lost Boy’s Anthem” and “Crazy Little Princess” are melodic, yes, but their energy doesn’t seem to stretch to the vocals, and they just don’t pan out. As a young band, I think maturity will do great things for these guys who are just starting to realize their abilities.
Written by Jordan Hodgins
*edited by Kate Erickson