May 30, 2010 - Paper And Plastic
We Are The Union display the same penchant for horn-assisted, modern pop-punk on their sophomore full-length as they did on their DIY debut, 2007's Who We Are. But is it as much of a positive step as its title might indicate? To some extent, sure. Their most impressive traits respectively improve in some regard, from their relentless energy and vocal dynamics to tempo changes and willingness to abandon standard structures. And yet, they definitely remain a band who clearly grew up on bouncy third-wave ska sounds and ultimately come out sounding not unlike their similarly young and speedy--albeit brass-less--pop-punk peers. Assistance from an all-star cast of recording vets (Matt Allison producing; Matt Bayles and Bill Stevenson mixing) helps give a healthily gritty sheen to the popcore mannerisms of opener "We're All Dead" and extra punch for the excellently integrated "whuh-uh-uh whoa-oh"s in "Start Over Starting Over." Although WATU seem adept at what they do, they're never quite breaking any sort of new ground, and only every now and then do their songs seem to offer a moment to get truly psyched on. Still, if you still dig Less Than Jake as much as you do Living With Lions, Great Leaps Forward will happily provide a welcome hybrid to your rotation.