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Salt Lake City’s The Departure have attempted a daring feat—bridging the gap between pop punk and prog rock—on their new fittingly-titled EP, Gateways. Punk, by its very nature, doesn’t always make the transition to progressive naturally—the two genres at times seem diametrically opposed to one another—but The Departure have found the winning formula for pulling it off successfully. The key for them lies in retaining a core melodic structure; the songs occasionally meander into experimental and symphonic realms, but they never fail to maintain a grasp on a good pop hook. Songs like “Incompetence” and “Forget Everything” are as catchy as they are daring.
The band’s progressive tendencies come forth the brightest on the title track, “Gateways,” an emotional rollercoaster wrapped in a four minute punk mini-suite. The one standard song here is “Lonely Eyes,” a rather traditional acoustic ballad, nevertheless with some remarkably pretty guitar work thrown in. The EP could have ended there, but instead it comes to a close on an anthemic note with “Thoughts,” perhaps the most emotionally gut-wrenching on the entire record. As a title, Gateways works on many levels because the EP also happens to serve as a perfect introduction to The Departure.
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