Stay pissed. With a motto like that, it’s probably safe to say that the pacific in Like Pacific isn’t related to remaining calm and peaceable. A cursory listen to Distant Like You Asked, the debut full-length release by the Toronto pop-punk/emo quintet, reveals energetic musicality and screamed vocalisations, demonstrating that the motto is about remaining angry, and using that anger to energise yourself to attain an outcome.
Pop-punk as a musical form doesn’t lend itself to the exploration of huge swathes of musical ground, instead choosing to walk a narrower, well defined, path. Despite these genre constraints, Like Pacific avoid the “4 chord song” stereotype that plagues punk, with Chris Thuang (bass), Dillon Forret (drums), and Cam Ward and Dylan Burnett (guitar), making use of every sonic inch available to them. Lead single Worthless Case sees the band engage in interesting rhythmic changes, 22a features a pleasing arpeggiated motif, Dim lets Thuang and Forret stretch their legs, and closing track, Scarred, deploys solid syncopation leading to the song’s bridge. Screamed vocals are an acquired taste, and definitely not to something everyone can listen to, and vocalist Jordan Black mainly relies on this delivery style. Surprisingly Black’s screams are oddly pleasing and melodic, which makes his nasal, slightly whiny, singing voice – when he chooses a more traditional vocal style – all the more jarring.
Black’s lyrics also pose another point of contention. Of Worthless Case, Black has said that the song is about how he “put genuine time and effort into getting to know someone, and after 3 months of being ‘just friends,’ I felt worthless and wondered how many times they had done this before.” Couple this with the line in de facto titular track, Distant, “why won’t you fall for me/I’m distant like you asked”, and it starts to sound like a man-child complaining that ‘women say they want a nice guy, but they obviously don’t because they won’t go out with me‘. A sentiment that, if not promptly grown out of, festers into extended adolescence and foreshadows problematic interpersonal relations with romantic partners. No doubt such an outcome would provide plenty of material for future songs, but these wouldn’t be pleasing songs.
With Distant Like You Asked, Like Pacific have shown they have chops, but time will tell whether they stagnate into just another competent contemporary pop-punk/emo band, or whether they mature into a band that pushes the boundaries, and ultimately transcends the strictures, of the genre. Musically they are already on that cusp, they just need to take the next step.