In our recent interview with Downway’s Dave Pederson, he told us that one of the most important things the band wanted to accomplish with Last Chance for More Regrets is improving on the quality of the recording from their previous work. The album, Downway’s first in some 15 years, easily accomplishes that. The band’s last output, 2003’s split EP with Belvedere, packed a big melodic punch, but as expected, it’s budget production meant that the album, sonically, could see improvement. This new album sounds fantastic but thankfully, doesn’t sound overproduced, and still exhibits one of the most enduring qualities of punk rock production- a genuine tone that the album is made by the musicians playing the instruments.
Last Chance for More Regrets picks up where they Hometown Advantage left off as Downway still write wonderfully melodic, up-tempo punk that takes cues from late 90s pop-punk. It’s the kind of pop-punk that skews more towards skate than pop, with sounds that evoke a little Dynamite Boy, a little Fenix TX, and some Home Grown. So what Downway do best is write skate punk with soaring melodies wrapped in melancholia, and their new album has spades of it. “Part of the Show” and “Wild Ones” are the two best cuts from Last Chance for More Regrets, with the latter being a great example that you can write an uptempo skate punk track without sacrificing urgency for accessibility. If you love melodic pop-punk that doesn’t lean towards bubblegum or the sad, burdensome punk that seems to have become the norm of today, then “Wild Ones” is that wonderful throwback you’ve been yearning for.
“Letters” and “Rebel Ballad” are extensions of the kind of hard-hitting songwriting Downway perfected early in their career, while “Saying Your Name” takes this approach to greater heights. It’s a truly wonderful song, the kind that would have been the ‘single’ contribution to a ton of punk compilations through the 90s. There was always that one song that stood out on indie comps- a shining gem, and “Saying Your Name” exhibits a similar sheen, one that made the $5 you spent on a compilation worth it. Downway stretch their wings a little with the closing, hard rock balladeering of “Last Night’s Makeup”. A little Motley Crue? Sure, why not?
Best of all, there is nothing average about Last Chance for More Regrets, it’s a solid, well-written album. It may not reshape the wheel of melodic punk, but it is a very strong entry into the genre’s canon. It is part throwback to the sound of yesteryear (which deserves a salute in itself), part forward thinking from a band comfortable in their skin, reformed and refreshed, unburdened with trying to be anyone but themselves.