Collecting Purpose’s entire discography onto one disc, 1994-2001 compiles together the band’s two seven inch releases, two album releases, seven demos, a cover, and an unreleased track. It also gives listeners a chance to see all of the different musical avenues the band traveled down in their time together, no doubt in part because of the revolving door policy the band had on its members. Over the band’s seven years together, there were a total of 12 different members.
The first six tracks are comprised of the band’s release Art as a Weapon. Playing a straight forward emotional punk style of music, the band sounds very much akin to early Saves the Day with a tad bit of Sunny Day Real Estate influence on one end of the spectrum and some Ensign on the other end, both thrown in for good measure. It’s hard to understand why this band didn’t blow up as they could have easily been the next Epitaph poster band in the mid to late 90’s. They definitely had the sound down.
The next four tracks come from Alpha and Omega and show the band taking on a decidedly punk edge. Without the aspirations of becoming an emo band, this release put the band smack dab in the same category as The Offspring, 1208, and The Descendants. The production of Alpha and Omega left a lot to be desired and when these songs come right after Art as a Weapon it is very noticeable and does detract from the songs.
What It’s Worth, the next album captured, gives us four tracks of the band quickening up the pace and sounding like Strongarm with a melodic vocalist. “Tonight” especially shows the band playing to their hardcore influences. The shift from punk edged emo to melodic hardcore is an interesting one to hear as the band handily plays to both styles.
Up next are the four tracks from the band’s self titled release. Unfortunately, these are probably the weakest songs in the band’s discography. Playing in the realm of straight up punk a la early AFI or Bad Religion, we see the band shifting into yet another genre, but doing it somewhat unsuccessfully. It also doesn’t help that the production leaves the guitars sounding weak and the songs somewhat drab overall.
The final section of this release is actually a very bittersweet collection of songs, bittersweet because the demos contained here show the band progressing to the point of infusing all of their different genre experiments into one sound. Taking on a post-hardcore sound, these demos show how the band could have put together some wonderful Thursday and Boy Sets Fire influenced songs. However, since these songs are demos, the production values are pretty low with everything feeling extremely rough.
In the end, not many people outside of New Jersey have probably heard of Purpose, but they were a band on the cusp of greater things and, unfortunately, faded away before they could ever move on to a bigger stage. This discography may not appeal to many, but to those yearning for something new to listen to from the mid-90’s punk era, this is a perfect disc to pick up.