An Incredible First Step
by: Ryan Waldis
I remember sitting in my office and scrolling through one of my favorite subreddits (r/poppunkers if you’re curious) about a year or so ago while I was waiting for some friends to stop by. I saw a new post featuring an artist I had never heard of before which is always exciting; while seeing old throwbacks definitely produces nostalgia, I’m always looking for fresh material that I can add to my playlists. Cory Wells had just released a music video to accompany his song “Walk Away” and it seemed to be garnering a lot of support on both the subreddit and in the comments section of the video, so naturally I had to check it out.
To be honest, I was left speechless after my first listen. While the song retained some pop-punk elements, it definitely wasn’t what I was expecting—I was intrigued, but I wasn’t quite sure why. After a couple more listens, I was hooked. “Walk Away” wasn’t a typical pop-punk or emo song; rather, it was something completely different and unique that personified why Wells has the potential to become the next big musical talent.
Imagine my excitement, then, when I found out that Wells recently released his debut album, The Way We Are, on November 15 via Pure Noise Records. Admittedly, Wells had kind of fallen on the backburner for me over the past several months, but when I saw the album announcement I was immediately reminded of the way I felt listening to “Walk Away” (the 10th track on the LP) a year prior.
Without lessening the impact of the other aspects of The Way We Are, this album simply shines from a lyrical perspective. The brutal and emotional lyrics would definitely be the major selling point of this LP for me. As someone who has been listening to a lot of emotional tracks over the past few months, it’s fair to say that Wells’ powerful lyrics match-up well with those written by the top songwriters in the industry today.
It’s hard to select just one or two examples showcasing the lyrical prowess of Wells from his debut album partly because almost every song has a plethora. Whether it’s “Do you see straight through me? / Am I just a dream to get you through the night?” in Keiko or “Do you think for yourself or is this your friends / That are doing away with me?” in End of a Good Thing, Wells’ words will make you reflect and reminisce the more that you listen to his songs. While discussing The Way We Are, the artist shared his main hope that, “people can appreciate the emotions put into this record as well as the various feels and styles it represents. It’s the way we are.” With the outstanding effort given to the lyrical portion of the album, it’d be hard not to appreciate everything Wells mentioned.
The lyrical praise above isn’t meant to discount the musical qualities of The Way We Are, which are solid for a full-length freshman effort. The chord progressions that can be heard throughout the album are good but there’s definitely some room for improvement when it comes to future releases, which definitely isn’t a bad thing. Vocally, Wells easily excels. When I reviewed The Darling Fire’s Dark Celebration you may remember that I was awestruck by Jolie Lindholm’s work behind the microphone; I felt the same way about Wells listening to this album.
The Way We Are is officially available on all streaming platforms, so definitely check it out at your earliest convenience. You can purchase CDs, vinyls, and more by visiting Cory’s merchandise website, https://corywells.merchnow.com/. If you like what you listened to, you can also make it out to see Cory perform some of these songs live. Some of his upcoming show dates are listed below, but you can check out a full listing of his shows at http://corywellsofficial.com/.
December 3rd: Bottom Lounge in Chicago
December 7th: Market Hotel in Brooklyn
December 11th: The Fillmore in Philadelphia
December 14th: Masquerade (Hell) in Atlanta
January 24th, 2020: St Pancras Old Church in London
The Way We Are is We Pod Approved with an 8.5 out of 10.