Debut LP from this Pittsburgh trio. Ten songs of melodic punk with math-y chops.
For years, Calyx was one of Pittsburgh’s best kept secrets; the one that you needed to see live in order to truly get. They were also one of the loudest acts, helped in part by the hard hitting drummer Garrett Cassidy. The difficulty that comes is this: how can you convey those facts through the document that is an album? There’s a whole lot more going on than your typical pop punk band. Calyx is dynamic in that way, akin to little bursts of fireworks, never content to sit within the typical rhythmic pockets that make this style of music predictable. Earlier works like Make a Freak Clean or For To, Oh fail to show what makes the band so compelling. Something is missing; they sound closer to demos to me and everything is a bit too muffled.
Stay Gone, a record the band describes as five years in the making, sees the band leveling up, finally giving their songs the treatment they deserve. Everything is at the exact right levels. The guitars are huge and the vocals sound clear, but it doesn’t come at the expense of the drums, the instrument that is the driving force for the band. Cassidy is able to create an urgency to these songs that wouldn’t exist otherwise, riding the delicate line between being busy and doing too much.
There are actual chances being taken here, really recalling a pop punk of the late aughts and early 2010’s, when bands like Joyce Manor, Good Luck, and Summer Vacation were vitally important in moving the genre forward. I can’t predict where Calyx will go from a songwriting perspective from one song to the next. They speed up and slow down, like on the superb opener “Americana Get a Break” and it’s only on occasion that the band does write a traditional pop punk song (“Leslie Plain and Strong”). It ultimately results in giving the listener a bunch of different looks that make it pretty unlikely for them to be bored.
Stay Gone is a reminder that it’s still possible to be surprised by new punk bands. It can often feel like you’ve heard every possible permutation of a pop song; Calyx is proof that you haven’t, seeking to shake you loose of your own complacency.
— Post Trash