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Cartel’s “Chroma” was really only known for one song “Honestly”, you can even say two “Say Anything” was the other song that was semi-big for the guys from Georgia, but there were several unheralded tracks from that album that hinted at where these guys could go “Q” was a big one same with “A.” Those two tracks showed a creative/artistic side that most people never got a chance to hear because they would just listen to “Honestly.” The other track that really showed that artistic side and possibly foreshadowed this new Cartel album most of all is a song called “The Minstrel’s Prayer.” Prayer is a stripped down track where it’s just front-man Will Pugh singing behind what amounts to be a hard drum beat and not much else, it sounds like something really simple and unoriginal, but the pop sensibility to it hasn’t been matched since that album came out. And Cartel’s new album, their self-titled album, shares the same pop-sensibility and artistic quality as “The Minstrel’s Prayer.” Quick couple of tidbits with the new self-titled debut by Cartel, it’s actually their first official record for Epic because “Chroma” was released by The Militia Group before it was released by Epic. The other piece of information that’s key is the band in a bubble. Cartel did a reality show with this new album; Dr. Pepper and MTV locked them in a bubble for twenty days and let them record their album in an environment where everybody could peek at the process of making a record. Given those two things mixed, that pressure was handled amazingly by Cartel and it’s hard to imagine them or anyone else making a better record. This is the most diverse pop-punk album to come out this year. “Lose It” as a single is brilliant, it’s wispy and catchy; everything a single should be. There are plenty of other great songs on the record including “If I Were to Write The Song” which is ridiculous that a pop-punk band can pull a song like it off but sensible because the band’s from Georgia. The song’s actually three songs in one; it goes from their typical style, to a blues style, to beat/pop style. It’s crazy. “The Fortunate” proves that Will Pugh can write a better melody than anyone else releasing anything these days and “Lonely One” should be included in the next Guitar Hero because the extended solo in the song can best be described as tasty. The track that steals the show though is “Wasted”, Pugh obviously had a deep moment on the track, and Will and the rest of the band wrote a great song. This is destined to be a second singe and a huge hit in 2008. Will Pugh is a freaking genius with melodies and fronts Cartel effortlessly, Kevin Sanders is a beast on drums and gives everything Cartel does some serious meat. The rest of the band just works together and with those two flawlessly. Not many people will take this seriously because of the bubble, but they definitely should. This is great stuff by Cartel.


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