An EP is sometimes little more than a teaser, and Cartel’s The Ransom EP was no exception. Giving listeners just a glimpse of what these Atlanta pop-rockers were capable of, the EP caught the attention of many and left us eager for an entire album’s worth of material, which they finally delivered this September. The young quintet’s debut full-length, Chroma, picks up exactly where The Ransom EP left off.
While Cartel may have grown, matured, and evolved between releases, the music hasn’t changed … it’s gotten only better. With more hooks than you could possibly know what to do with, Chroma encompasses 12 tracks of pure sing-along fun. The choruses are insanely catchy, the vocals are out of this world, and the music is more rock than it is bubblegum.
Vocalist Will Pugh, guitarists Nic Hudson and Joseph Pepper, bassist Ryan Roberts, and drummer Kevin Sanders demonstrate their versatility as songwriters by ranging from the toe-tapping opener “Say Anything (Else),” to the ballad “Save Us,” in which Pugh’s vocals take center stage. The best track is the poppy “Settle Down,” followed closely by the re-recorded “Luckie St.,” a fan favorite. But the last two blended tracks, “Q” and “A,” demonstrate Cartel’s growth as songwriters and their willingness to push the limits and experiment a little. And of course, by the end, it leaves you wanting more.
Having played a couple weeks of the Warped Tour this summer and snagging a killer spot on the “Take Cover Tour” with Acceptance and Panic! At the Disco this fall, Cartel have taken advantage of every opportunity to win crowds over with their energetic and well-executed live performance. —Leah Weinberg
Cartel share the stage with The Working Title and New Atlantic at the Music Farm on Fri. Dec. 2. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $9 in advance and $11 at the door.