The first time I heard Calgary’s Napalmpom reminded me of the first time I heard another Albertan-born rock band: The Pursuit of Happiness. Both introductions left me blown away by each band’s unabashed love of rock ‘n’ roll, big melodies, and broken-hearted laments. Napalmpom’s classic rock leanings feel slightly out of step with their time, but like their forebearers, they play it with all their heart. It’s as if the band knows something the rest of us don’t; a secret reserved only for those who let rock ‘n’ roll into their heart and accept it as their personal saviour.
The Core Competencies of Napalmpom is their comprehensive catalogue of rock knowledge, and end-to-end, no-filler-(almost)-all-killer collection of heart and soul. On their Bandcamp store, each individual track is lovingly detailed and described: album opener “Get Love” is ‘…about a shame and judgment-free rebound and the importance of every relationship, no matter how short”; on “Her Own Wings” they “…tried to write a Superchunk song but it sounds kind of like early Judas Priest and 80s AC/DC, but in a good way?”; and proudly acknowledge that closer “Pretty Great Machine” is “…an honest-to-goodness slow jam and a perfect end to an album about being self-assured in the search for love in a world that kind of likes to shit on everything you do.”
“Self-assured” doesn’t begin to cover just how brilliantly clever and confident The Core Competencies… is. In the end, that’s Napalmpom’s special secret: if you’re going to play rock ‘n’ roll, make it big, make it bold, and make the world believe it’s what you were born to do.