Big Phillie present a sound that ranges from the acoustic to the punk-pop, all the while showcasing a Blink 182-inspired leading vocal performance and a creatively free approach to crafting melodies. The album is Forever On Empty, and the opening song I Know expresses an up close and personal, raw and acoustic offering of incredibly emotional lyricism. It’s a strong introduction to front-man Jason Phillips, though as things progress the sound moves back and forth quite notably between the loud and the quiet sides of his style.
See Your Around brings about a faster pace yet a softer overall sound, merging into indie-pop a little, fusing delicacy with high energy – resulting in an infectious and memorable few minutes of music. The honesty of the lyricism remains, there are stories and diary-like thoughts throughout this entire project. From Just Wasn’t Love through to Edge Of Innocence, the pace and overall mood evolve drastically, the vibrancy and attitude of the latter makes for a definite highlight within the collection.
It’s not merely the rhythm switch up that you notice, as the weight of the full throttle punk-rock moments fall away, the lightness lays bare a thoughtful and troubled mind that offers up some of the most open and unedited elements of being human. One More Drink is a great example. At under two minutes long it appears as an unapologetic moment of inner turmoil and realness. Shut Up follows on in a similar fashion, the melody and the performance have a laid back, carefree energy, yet the lyricism is unquestionably at war with this sentiment. The songwriting showcases a definite sense of personal truth.
Get Back smashes into action with the hard hitting, distorted energy of punk-rock. The contrast between this and the preceding, more delicate moments, is quite striking. This song is another highlight as the instrumentation and the melody strongly support and compliment each other from start to finish. It feels complete and is energizing to listen to. The structure presents a later change in melody that also really helps it stand out. The mood remains high for You Know Who You Are, manic guitars and drums cascade around you, the anger and resentment of the lyrics hits in an unavoidable manner and is reflected quite powerfully in the vocal performance. Jason Phillips has the tone and lungs required to really rock this kind of sound. A live show would undoubtedly satisfy the Green Day or Blink fans who still crave that kind of energy.
Mama Cried welcomes back the soft and spacious acoustic sound at just the right time. This is one of the stronger acoustic offerings, the lyrical layout makes the lines really sink in – there’s no filler, there’s plenty of space within which you can absorb the ideas and the story, and everything leads beautifully to that key line, that hook. This song is great, really captivating and interesting to witness. Paperback follows with a similar energy. There’s a very raw sound to the recording and there are certain moments at which this really makes itself known. It adds an endearing quality to the project that isn’t often heard on the squeaky clean releases of today.
Until Then presents a really strong chord progression and subsequently effective melody. The move from the slower wordplay to the quick delivery at the end of each line makes for a characterful and intriguing piece of music and writing. Then you get the colourful acoustic guitar play of Valentines Day, an impressive and enjoyable moment of instrumentation followed by a fitting and passionate bit of songwriting.
13th Friday is a reflective and youthful song that navigates between the subtle and the strong, keeping contrast alive and utilising it to give off an ever-changing ambiance and yet another interesting, slowly evolving melody line. You’re likely to remember this one after hearing it even just once. Then things get wrapped up neatly and relevantly with the gritty and loving Get Some Sleep. There’s a confession-like feel to the writing here, the honesty reaches an all time high and is professionally combined with a certain musicality that makes for perhaps the most mainstream friendly track of the whole release. It’s a gorgeous way to finish. There’s a lot that takes place within the walls of this album and yet it still leaves you with the feeling that there’s plenty more to come.