When your band carries members with musical alma maters like Choke and The Fullblast, people are undoubtedly going to hold you to a higher standard of output, be it a blessing or a curse. Passenger Action’s self-titled full-length finds Choke’s Shoawn Moncreiff and Clay Shea connecting with Ryan Podlubny (ex-Fullblast) and Allan Harding (not sure where he’s from) to deliver an album that, sorry to give it away so early, is magical.

When Moncreiff takes the mic after a rather gorgeous clean guitar intro on “Tonight We Resonate,” Choke fans are privileged to an almost surreal experience (at least I was). Both reminiscent of his past project and also slightly more polished to make this one pronounced all on its own, Moncreiff, with a little help from his friends, takes listeners on a gorgeous journey of great vocal phrasing combined with some dual-guitar interplay that comes together in the centre of the stereo experience for a euphoric meeting.

Realizing it was no coincidence after the second track, “Done With the Downfall,” began, I noted a strong Moneen imprint on several aspects of this release – from the progressive songwriting to the inviting guitar interplay to vocals very reminiscent of Kenny Bridges’ pop-sensibilities. It’s funny, because Moneen has always seemingly paid homage to Choke on their releases, and now it seems things have come full circle – or perhaps there was never a circle at all. Maybe it’s just two great bands in their own rite nailing the combination of nearly abstract songwriting with enough melody and vocal hooks to make a product as spacey as it is special.

The instrumentals on this record are both technical and entrenching, and could carry the album in their own rite (as proven with the vocal-less “Night Frisbee” and “Good Ones Are Hard To Come By”). Combine this with Moncreiff’s already-proven ability to compose some compelling hooks, and you’ve got a winner. The slowed-down chorus of “Absent Minds,” complete with some terrific harmonies and over-dubbed vocals, is just stunning, only to be topped by the delayed guitar leads that breakdown the song before a return to the chorus. Honestly, I’m struggling to find the words.

As I chip away at this review, I find myself more and more in-tune with how greatly this album resonates with me. Passenger Action has crafted a work of art that combines the influence of its members’ previous musical endeavors (thank God) while incorporating more ambiance and emotion than we’ve heard in the past. Fans of Choke, Moneen, Knapsack (good call, press sheet), or even Braid would do well to offer the band an ear. Frankly, that’s all it’ll take.  [ END ]

Track Listing:

01. Tonight We Resonate
02. Done With The Downfall
03. Absent Minds
04. Foreign Signals
05. (Night Frisbee)
06. To Credit The Archives
07. Isolated From The Cause
08. Surface Issues
09. Beneath The Rust
10. (Good Ones Are Hard To Come By)
11. Struggling With The Irony
12. Twenty Weeks

Run Time: 41:44
Release Date: 02.24.2009