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Cartel: Cycles This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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The Georgia-based pop-punk band Cartel formed in 2003. Since then, they have released three albums. The latest, “Cycles,” shows fans a more developed and mature sound.

“Let's Go” sets an upbeat feel. Will Pugh's vocals are energetic and powerful. The lyrics suggest we should enjoy our lives and appreciate what we have. This optimism is continued throughout most of the album. “Faster Ride,” my favorite song, is very relatable. It talks about coming to terms with a relationship that's ending. Although it's about no longer being with someone, the lyrics – “go until you get it right and I hope you find it” – add a positive outlook.

A song with raw emotion is “Only You.” Unlike the others, it is a slow and genuine love song with intensely passionate vocals. This track definitely stands out.

The closing song, “Retrograde,” is a perfect choice. It talks of overcoming challenges – “and I'm losing touch, but I'm not afraid. I'll be okay.” This goes along with the theme of staying true to yourself.

Compared to previous albums, “Cycles” is by far the best example of Cartel's true talent. The band took its time recording this record, and it shows. After several years of making music they have crafted their sound to make it original. “Cycles” demonstrates a typical pop-punk sound but with soulful lyrics. Fans will definitely not be disappointed.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys alternative or pop-punk. If you listen to artists like Hit the Lights, ­Valencia, or Mayday Parade, you will probably like this.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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