By Everything We Left Behind
The debut mini-album from Bristol-based four-piece Everything We Left Behind has a formula, and that formula is: take all the best features of pop-punk (the energy, exuberance and big, fat choruses,) while replacing all the worst features of pop-punk (the tenancy towards character-less over-production; the irritating over-chirpiness) with some actual punk characteristics, like you actually find in actual punk (and not, very often, in pop-punk.)
So, album-opener 'Big Thanks To The Sun' features all the usual offenders of the pop-punk genre - springy drumbeats; "whoooooa" backing vocals; melodic-voiced frontman - wrapped up in a crackly production, with lashings of broken-glass riffing and a general roughness that pleasantly recalls local bands and live music.
'Motion Killer' and 'Repeating,' are also ingenious hybrids of punk-rock and pop-punk. The chorus of 'Motion Killer' is gleeful defiance, backed up by a sassy drumbeat that'll get rooms full of gig-goers pogo-ing appreciatively. So far, so typical pop-punk. However, then Everything We Left Behind bring in a disjointed riff that stutters and saws across the track, somehow managing to simultaneously roughen things up and play into that springy, poppy beat. 'Repeating,' meanwhile is a high-octane burst of fizzy pop-punk, tempered by that punk-rock production and a smattering of breakdowns. It makes for the most passionate and intense moments of the mini-album. These are two pop-punk songs you won't feel vaguely embarrassed about liking.
However, when Everything We Left Behind try to pull off a purely punk-rock song, it begins to sound a bit messy. The most successful of their attempts at straight-up punk, are 'No Friend Of Mine' and album-closer 'Believe Me.' The former manages to sound coherent even as it rattles furiously past - but, maybe the fact that this song is over in seconds, has something to do with that.
'Believe Me' manages to keep its clattering drums and ragged riffs in tune with one another, with the help of a foot-stamping pop-punk chorus. And, it has a running time that puts the pint-sized 'No Friend Of Mine' to shame. This isn't always the case though, when the band expand the punk concept into a fully-formed song, it often loses coherence. Title track 'Pull Back And Go' would benefit from a more melodic slant, especially during the choruses, where the drums rattle, the guitars describe jagged lines and frontman Josh Rees jabbers away, and none of them seem to have much to do with one another.
It's hardly surprising then, that this mini-album's stand out moment isn't a punk track, but what is surprising is the epic route Everything We Left Behind take with 'Untitled.' There's plenty of pop-punk goodies here, but 'Untitled' also periodically launches into a sweep of stadium-tinged riffing. It's encouraging to hear Everything We Left Behind sounding so huge and musically accomplished, especially considering this is their debut release.
'Pull Back And Go' takes a back-to-basics approach to pop-punk. Stripping away the lacquer, Everything We Left Behind are a rawer, more punk-orientated experience than the pop-punk bands currently in vogue. If you're an old-fashioned punk-rocker whose hankering after something a bit more melodic, then Everything We Left Behind could be right up your street.