Gratitude features Jonah Matranga, the creative force behind Onelinedrawing and former frontman of Far, as well ex-Crumb guitarist Mark Weinberg. Matranga has said he suspended Onelinedrawing because of its emo perceptions, and that's obvious in Gratitude's straightforward, rewarding songwriting. It's Weezer ("Drive Away"), latter-day Jimmy Eat World ("This Is the Part"), and even U2 ("Greatest Wonder") that they have in mind -- bands that fuse their turns of emotion to satisfying electric guitar crunch instead of the melodrama and wandering song structures of emo. Gratitude isn't a risk taker. It doesn't pierce the brain with post-hardcore stickpins, nor are its lyrics burdened with flowery language. "This is the part where we start to feel better, and stop shutting up" -- it wants to comfort, but also entertain, and do it all with recognizable elements. Matranga's past projects touch the album here and there, but the meat of it comes from reliable guitar hooks and pleasantly romantic lyrics. And that's exciting, because it makes Gratitude sound like an early-'80s pop band built for 21st century ears. "Sadie" starts out with a quiet piano figure, but instead of dwelling in the shadows it transforms into a pogo-worthy rocker. "Another Division St." adds swooning synths to its melodic indie groove, and "Begin Again" closes -- naturally -- with the repetition of its rousing electric guitar melody. Albums sometimes have agendas, just like the tag of a particular scene can color a band's intent. Gratitude's debut has none of that -- it's crazy to say it, but this record just keeps it real.
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus