Let’s talk about Lancaster, a five-piece local band who released their first EP, <em>Columbia Lake</em>, earlier this month. For a first attempt at an EP, the album is quite solid, showcasing a fair amount of potential for the fivesome. However, while there are some definite positives to build upon for future releases, there are also some flaws that detract from the album experience pretty substantially. Let’s start with the good though: the instrumentation is very strong, and the album is a well-polished piece of work — bringing in Walk off the Earth touring member Zach Gerber for the mastering and production was a very good decision. The songs are decent and the melodies are catchy enough, but the vocals are somewhat hindered by the lyrics and the lack of variation between songs. That’s not to say the lyrics are weak — they’re not; it’s just that even after several plays, none of the lyrics have really stuck in my mind — there’s just no catchy hook that’ll have you singing it to yourself long after the album is done. This leads to one of my main sources of confusion regarding the album: it doesn’t really fit into the genres it’s purported to inhabit. A friend mentioned to me that the album sounds sort of like a mash-up between Said the Whale and Angels and Airwaves, and I tend to agree — it seems like an attempt at punk rock, but with really folky/indie rock lyrics that kind of hold it back. It’s still good, it’s just a bit confusing to have these strong punk-ish melodies with depressing, folky vocals on top — there’s some type of disconnect here that ends up detracting from the songs themselves. This is especially apparent in the songs “Fireworks” and “Young,” which are musically very similar and feature similarly-voiced folky lyrics that kind of dampen the strength of the instrumentation itself. This isn’t true for all the songs, however. My personal favourite was the opening track, the somewhat-out-of-place instrumental “Columbia Lake,” which is probably the strongest song on the album likely for this reason: there are no vocals to detract from the instruments themselves. Instead, it’s possible to just sit and enjoy the music, which is really the selling point of the album. Again, that isn’t to say that this is a bad album — it’s actually quite decent — there’s just a few things to improve upon for future releases. It’s worth a listen (and free to do so from their Facebook page), and it’s a pretty good first try for the band. There’s certainly some potential here, and I’m interested to see what the band may have in store for future releases.