Western Pacific is the solo pop punk project by Derek Chan. His release 306 has an ample amount of traits that point to pop punk 101. The first thing is his vocal style and delivery. He sounds young and has that voice that seems to be a gold standard with the genre. The lyrics are also indicative of what you would expect from this genre. Let's face it the topics that pop punk bands tend to sing about resonant with the teenagers and kids who are around the legal drinking age. He sings about a girlfriend, life-decisions and house parties that smell foul. That being said I thought his lyrics themselves were thought out and often told engaging narratives.
I always preach about bands doing something, anything, different since there is so much competition these days. 306 is an acoustic album which is a nice change of pace but what really got my attention was that Chan pulled out a banjo. I applaud him for this and he not only attempts it but pulls it off. The banjo didn’t sound out of place and it was nice to hear some variation.
The album goes through stages of sounding like stereotypical pop punk to having slight deviations. “Homegirl” is more or less pop punk 101. It’s a catchy tune but follows all the tropes of the genre from beginning to end.
Chan busts out the banjo in “Passing Stone” which a single worthy song you can picture on mainstream radio. Chan sings about a relationship but as I mentioned earlier he has skill in the lyric department. He sings, “My timing is always wrong, like a clock running hours long, my batteries fine but my hands seem to make mistakes all the time.” “Misunderstood (Feat. Emily Faye)” is a solid tune and sometimes vocal duets can come off as contrived but this one worked. Faye has a good voice that works well against Chan’s. The bells were a nice touch as well.
A highlight was unequivocally “For You.” There were female vocals on this song and I think it was Faye. This song veers more towards folk than pop punk and it sounded great. This is something that Chan may want to think about as he gets older. Yes for someone in their mid ‘30s or ‘40s folk songs tend to be more age appropriate.I really liked what I was hearing on the second half of the album (more so than the first half). “Tyson” and “All Right” were notable songs that showcased Chan’s talent.
306 at the very least offers something a little bit different under the pop punk genre. It’s certainly not a bad start. I hope to hear him evolve as an artist with his future releases.
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