Published Jun 13, 2018Anyone who's been referring to Calpurnia as "Finn Wolfhard's band" is gonna change their tune after listening to Scout. The debut EP from the Vancouver-based rock quartet — which, yes, features the Stranger Things star — puts all members on display in a competent showcase of rock fandom and skill.
The members range in age from 15 to 17, but they're clearly old souls, with plenty of classic rock influence; the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys are the main points of reference here. On Scout, it takes Calpurnia a while to find their sound — early numbers "Louie" and "Wasting Time" and lead single "City Boy" find the band doubling down on their love of classic rock, though the band's distinct identity is dangerously at risk of getting lost in the tribute.
But it's the other three tracks that showcase the band's nascent strengths as they explore more experimental realms. The walking bass groove, wavering synths and catchy background vocals of "Greyhound" embrace a penchant for breezy arrangement, a notion furthered on closing numbers "Blame," which shifts between zippy indie rock and Mac DeMarco lounge, and "Waves," a nearly seven-minute-long slow-burner that lets the band sprawl out and settle into a solid groove.
Sure, Wolfhard is the lead singer, but Scout is hardly a vehicle for his newfound stardom — while every member gets their due, the star here is clearly lead guitarist Ayla Tesler-Mabe, whose masterful riffage adds a sense of classic rock authenticity all over the album.
There are no particularly profound lyrical moments, but the band are more than adept at crafting a series of solid earworms. Spaciously arranged, with plenty of room for keys, vibraphones and horns (courtesy of Whitney's Will Miller), there's a vibrancy and sprightliness to each track.
Calpurnia are young and eager, and on Scout, they turn their youth and eagerness into weapons of rock for a catchy debut that speaks to their boundless potential. (Royal Mountain Records)