I’ve got to admit, We All Need A Reason To Believe surprised me. Expecting 11 tracks of relatively middle-of-the-road emo-tinged pop punk, Valencia proved me wrong on this new album.

Well, not entirely. It’s still heavily produced emo- tinged pop punk, but it’s far more adventurous than you’d expect out of a band’s major label debut. Elements of shoegaze, ‘70s rock, and yes, even country, find crannies in the Philadelphia quintet’s long- awaited sophomore statement. Arrangements are more complex, with intriguing riffs that might be more suited to a metal band at times, and left-field additions like the strings and female vocals at the end of “Where Did You Go?” that are shockingly unpretentious.

For a genre that has adamantly declared it’ll always be a Toys R Us kid, however, they’re still containing these new urges into terse songs of love and regret—don’t expect any power ballads. While 38 minutes might be average for a pop punk record, there’s a desire for the band to stretch out in points, and it simply doesn’t happen, and singer Shane Henderson is capable but still relatively unremarkable.

While there’s still plenty of room to improve for Valencia, they may be among the first bands of their ilk to realize that simply crossing over genres isn’t necessarily moving forward.

In A Word: Advancing

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