Earlier this year, I sang the praises of the Wonder Years and its new album Suburbia on this very website. One of the endearing factors of that record was how it felt like a piece of golden age pop-punk (if there is such a thing) and yet felt fresh at the same time. The Reveling have tried to accomplish much the same with Tributaries, but have unfortunately managed to harness more of the dismissable aspects of the genre than the engrossing ones.
If I could put a finger on the sound, it could almost be described as listening to Rise Against try to write Dookie-era Green Day songs. Sean Morris has the same strained rasp as RA front man Tim McIlrath, and at times ventures into Billie Joe Armstrong territory (“Plaster Saints” being a prime example). “Ironbound” even has lyrics talking about “coming round”, which is either another sly tribute to BJA or I’m looking far too much into this. See, I wouldn’t keep bringing up these comparisons if the band’s promo page for the record didn’t make the claim that Tributaries “could have been released alongside Dookie or Goddamnit.” Making such claims leads people to make immediate comparisons, and once they realize that you’ve lifted big chunks of your sound from the aforementioned bands, they’ll move onto something else.
Let’s examine the meat and potatoes of this record a bit. It’s a little under a half hour long, which is in the album’s favour as the songs are short and sweet. There’s not much substance, so a few quick verses and choruses are all we need to get the main idea of a song. That being said, there’s nothing glaringly offensive here, either. The problem is that I can listen through the entire album and completely forget most of the contents about ten minutes later.
Tributaries can be summed up as a “safe” punk rock record. The Reveling don’t push any envelopes, and play nicely within the sandbox. If you’re a diehard fan of their influences, perhaps you’ll get a brief kick out of this album. If you’re looking for a group that’s trying to blaze a new trail in their genre, you’re better off looking somewhere else.