Fastlane – Overdrive

By Spud

To be perfectly honest, I think Fastlane perfectly illustrate the challenge that UK bands face when attempting to ‘go big’. The band had a slew of great reviews for their first album, bagged a good share of support slots to huge artists (New Found Glory, Avenged Sevenfold, and the rest), and even made their album a chart hit in Japan. And yet they still sit in the relative shadow of middle-of-the-road pop-punk bands from the U.S.

The frustration of being unable to make it to the top of your division because, effectively, you don’t hold the right passport must be immense. It certainly hasn’t affected Overdrive which is, to be frank, so overblown and full of pomp that it is beyond the point of the ridiculous. But in such a good way. Compared to their first album, Overdrive gives even greater nods to the guitar stylings of 80s rock bands, but updates them with their own brand of pop-rock sensibility. That’s another thing – this release struggles to be classed as pop-punk, unlike their debut. I mean, of course it has strong pop-punk influences. But this is what you mean when you talk about the maturation of a group who are now putting out a record they never thought they would on a smaller label. It’s no longer about ‘making it’.

And with such a weight off their collective shoulder, they’ve been free to make one of the releases of the year. Take the solos of ‘Sunset at seventeen’ or ‘Walk away’. There is no other phrase to describe them other than with a clever use of parentheses: ridiculous(ly awesome). Matty’s soloing has become the sort of thing that expert-level Guitar Hero fanatics dream about, whilst Ben continues to provide evidence as to why, in the field of pop-punk and pop-rock at least, he’s one of the most talented vocalists on the UK circuit today.

Hopefully this will inspire the next generation of UK artists to have a go. The intro to ‘As we climb‘ is the type of thing you used to play round at your mates house and dive off bunkbeds whilst air guitaring to. Well, some of us did. This record is just impossible to dislike if this is in any way connected to something you like, and if you approach it openly. I even like the ballad. I don’t like ballads!

Overblown rock. Solos. Enormous choruses. Massive guitars. There’s your summary. It’s impossible to listen to this without a Cheshire Cat-like grin on your face.

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