When I threw on Waves, the new album from the Tampa Bay-based pop-rock act Four Star Riot, I was quite surprised (in a good way) by what I found. While their previous releases boasted smooth, glossy productions that relied heavily on keyboard tracks to sustain the songs’ melodies, the first thing I noticed of this new offering was a rawer sound. The guitars pave the way with a terrific fuzzy, slightly distorted tone that, as a fan of heavier things, piqued my interest.

Don’t get the wrong idea though, the band’s smooth, sweet harmonies remain intact, they are just layered over a grittier version of the pop/rock/soul fusion Four Star Riot have always held onto, which really gives their funky vibe an extra edge. Speaking of funk, the opening bass lines of “Just Tell Me” suck you into the beat, compelling you to move along with the groove.

For me though, the group saved the best for last; I really dig the reverb-soaked vocals and fuzzy guitars of the final track, “Tender Now,” the dichotomy of the two create a killer vibe and a sweet way to cap off the disc.

This is music at its basic level, designed for nothing more than having a good time. The pop-tinged grooves seem almost custom made for hanging out with your buds, drinking your fave beverage, whether it be in the backyard or at the club on the corner.

Waves Track Listing:

01. Waves
02. Empty Space
03. Just Tell Me
04. So Far
05. Torn & Tattered
06. Don’t Go
07. No Shore
08. Baby Blue
09. The Horizon
10. Tender Now

Run Time: 34:00
Release Date: September 2, 2016

View the video for “So Far”