Chicago 4 piece pop-rock outfit, Stay Golden, released their 5 song EP, The Compass & The Vessel, yesterday. The album, which was co-produced by Derek Grant of Alkaline Trio fame, pairs clear catchy lyrics with relatable subject matter. Tracks like, “Bitter Scene,” tell an appropriate story of how musicians sometimes get forgotten by their hometown & even so called friends when they leave town to tour. Lyrics like “You’re leaving all your friends behind / They hope that you won’t look back and maybe you’ll die,” paint an all to familiar picture for anyone who has been in the same spot.

“Don’t leave this way or we’ll leave it a bitter scene,” is another stand-out line that proves pop music can be powerful and is more than just love songs with catchy choruses.

Track 2, titled, “Days We’d Take Over” seems to be the story of love and loss. Listening to lyrics on repeat you can’t help but notice how much emotion went into writing the song. Songs like this are what separate good artists from great ones. The band is so willing to open up and share what is clearly an emotional subject.

The EP’s title track, “Benefits With Friends,” is a ballad of pure optimism which preaches that friends matter most along with the importance of not being fickle. “Let me show, you how we do / I’ll make a believer out of you,”  jumps out along with lyrics like, “This is the part of the song where we talk about what moves us forward / Is it music or friends?”

Its always enlightening when you listen to a body of work and you feel like you know and understand the people who have written it. When the people writing the music are having fun, that’s contagious, not ear worms. Catchy songs don’t define good songs, being real does – and Hollywood can’t buy that.

A refreshing element found in the EP is use of time. The songs are on average around 4 to 5 minutes long. The length allows you to absorb and enjoy the stories the group is sharing, but isn’t overly reliant on a catchy repeated chorus filled with splash words. The bands sound is common, but still fun.

The Compass & The Vessel is definitely above average, but it falls into some of the familiarity of its genre. A good pick up for fans of the pop rock variety. I’d go out and support these guys on the road.


Written by: Michael Flanagan

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