It may help that I was, by chance, listening to Brand New’s “Deja Entendu” right before I put on this DIY EP from the trio called Surgery in an Opera. The band consists of Calvin Roberts on vocals and guitar, Eldon Campbell on bass and Joshua Strong on drums. In four songs, the band invokes the image of an early 2000’s pop-punk/emo band, which nostalgia seems to be bringing back to today. The band has a sound similar to that of Brand New without the budget – that catchy emo type of sound that isn’t afraid to go either acoustic or distorted.
The first and shortest track, “The Escape Artist,” feels like a true pop-punk song. It’s energetic and catchy, with fuzzy guitars and vaguely personal lyrics. Track two, “Down the Beaten Path, or a Song For Those in the Vehicle City,” is slower but more melodic, and it blends acoustic guitar with a distorted, electric one. Again, it’s a catchy song. And it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome – because around the three minute mark, the band stops for about five seconds before quickly jumping back into a chorus. “The Worker Bee Brings Home the Honey” is a song that takes its time to build up, leading up a slow climax and features guest vocals by the very emo-sounding Campbell. Finally, “Wounds Pt. 2” starts acoustic, with very typical pop-punk lyrics. But a very distorted electric guitar kicks in pretty quickly, and Roberts ends up making a very effective use of power chords. The song ends big and loud, blowing out the volume.
Surgery In An Opera are not doing anything revolutionary, and their lo-fi/DIY approach can be seen as both a good and bad quality to their music. But “Sad Songs For the Sad State” is a good little blast of emo/pop-punk. Roberts’ vocals are fine and they’re all along with each other. It’s a promising release for a band that sounds like they know what they’re doing. And if you’re going for that bit of early aughts nostalgia, this EP is just reminiscent enough to do the trick.
The EP is available for streaming here.
If you like this, try: I Kill Giants’ self-titled debut from earlier this year. A little heavier and scream-ier, but they’re another good up-and-coming nostalgia band.
-By Andrew McNally