It is said that no matter how unusual or outdated your preferred musical genre or sexual fetish there is always someone out there who is also into it.
So whilst there very well may still be a community of like minded people who continue to perform the Lupercus Whipping Purification Ceremony on their prospective partners there is likewise definitely still a very much alive Pop Punk scene.
This is despite the Whipping Ceremony reaching the height of it’s popularity a couple of hundred years ago and the punk sub-genre hitting the peak of its commercial success in the late ‘90’s into the early 2000’s.
It is a style of music made popular by its irreverent lyrical content and abundant sense of fun. Whilst it once seemed you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing a three-chord progression and smutty lyrics about chicks ‘n’ shit, the bands that specialize in such music are much more thin on the ground these days.
So I must give due respect to new Perth band ‘88 To Yesterday’ for proudly flying the flag of their preferred musical genre (and possibly their sexual fetishes but I can’t be sure) The lads make no bones about where they want to sit in the musical lexicon and wear the ‘pop punk’ badge with honor. Being genuine to who you are is arguably one of the first rules of punk and these guys are a straight up pop punk band and fucking proud of it.
One listen to 88’s debut EP and it is abundantly clear where they are coming from and most likely where they have been. All the essential elements are represented – crunchy guitar, slightly nasal vocals, punchy drums and the requisite sense of fun.
In my mind this is music that would slot quite well alongside the flagships of the genre – Blink 182, NOFX and their peers.
The five song EP kicks off with track ‘Too Far To Fly’ a typically rollicking number that belts along nicely after a brief and twangy guitar intro that gives an almost false impression of what’s to follow. The track is pretty indicative of the rest of the album with it relatively straight forward song structure and big hook at the chorus.
One of the main reasons I personally never fully embraced pop punk is the mostly straightforward nature of the songs of the most prominent protagonists. The predictable structures rarely did enough to hold my (admittedly short span of) attention. There definitely a little of such predictable structure found on ‘Choose Your Own Adventure.’
Whilst the songs are well written within the bounds of these limitations they do still fall into this category slightly. However it has to be said that this comes down to my personal bias and people who consider themselves fans of some of the aforementioned bands will likely not have the same misgivings as myself.
My only other criticisms of this release are minor – the somewhat ‘samey’ guitar tone and vocal delivery. When this is coupled with the similar structure and length of each track it means it can take a few listens for the songs to distinguish themselves individually, but they eventually do and after a while the better ideas contained within each show themselves. However the strengths found here far outweigh those perceived weaknesses.
I can find very little fault with this musically, the playing is tight and cohesive with the songs well written and performed. The production is crisp and balanced with an impressively professional sound for an unknown band making its debut.
I also really enjoyed much of the lyrical content with clever phrasing and an absence of stereotypical pop punk themes a refreshing surprise. And almost every song has a genuinely catchy hook that sticks with you later.
The songs are at their best when there are a few points of difference contained in them like the some of nice guitar interplay on ‘Chase That Smile’ and I particularly liked the tracks where the vocals are layered to form some very nice harmonies such as ‘Starfall’. ‘Sarah Says’ is a highlight due its change of pace and big chorus. I also found the drumming to be a particular standout throughout.
This is an impressive debut effort that shows bunches of potential and is a good, fun listen from start to finish. There is an honesty found here that only comes with musicians making the music they want to make, and I personally have nothing but respect for that approach.
If you want to check it out head to their bandcamp and have a listen. I’m confident fans of this genre will not be disappointed.
As always I will say here – if it tickles your fancy show your support for local punk by paying for a copy of the EP. These guys deserve your support – it’s only the right thing to do !
3.5 / 5 Blink 182 t-shirts