By E.R. Pulgar
Pop-punk music is angsty by nature: it is the music of the outcasts, the suburban kids who feel like they would belong if they get out of their small towns. The big pop punk bands —Green Day, Blink 182, etc. — usually delve into deeper topics, but the more obscure ones don’t tend to delve deeper than a sad song about a girl or wanting to drive away with their friends. In essence, the genre captures youth, along with all its insecurities and moments of glory, with big guitars and pounding drums that, after a few minutes of listening, feel jaded.
Transit follows in the footsteps of nearly every pop punk band on their latest studio effort, “Joyride.” The album, composed of twelve tracks, is probably better experienced as the soundtrack to a crowd of festival-goers. Without the sweaty pushing and the excitement of being at a music festival, it’s a fairly bland rock record that sounds a little too polished, with no room left for the grittiness that makes people come back to pop punk, no matter how similar the music sounds between bands of the genre.
On almost every song, vocalist Joe Boynton’s pitch-perfect delivery seems almost plastic, which is unbecoming of songs with such exorbitant emotional content. It’s a typical pop punk voice: young and with an impressive range, with a whiny undertone to the actual delivery.
This is unsurprising, as the rest of the record is so stereotypically cookie-cutter when it comes to pop punk records. “Saturday Sunday” seems like a My Chemical Romance demo straight out of 2004, and not even a good one.
That being said, the album does have its moments: “Summer Dust,” despite again conforming to the stereotypes this album so often falls back on, is refreshingly bittersweet and honest, talking about a lost summer love. The closing track, “Follow Me,” shows a glimmer of intelligence within a sea of banal lyrics, self-referencing itself in the last line: “This is my love song, this is how it ends,” a fitting final line to an album full of heartbroken and sappy anthems to sad girls in small towns.
The most gorgeous moment comes in the form of “Loneliness Burns,” the only emotional part of the album that does not feel fabricated. The song tones down the drums and guitar to let Boynton’s voice be contemplative and even genuinely pained while the piano the song is built around provide the pang of melancholy that makes it so stunning. The simple piano-driven ending leaves one with a sense of what the song is about, as opposed to openly stating it like the rest of the songs on “Joyride.”
At best, Joyride is a fun album; good to listen to and escape life for a bit, while lost in the melancholy memories of an alt-kid’s youth. At worst, it’s a forgettable and clichéd collection of tunes doomed to be Hot Topic background music.
Essentially, “Joyride” is worth a listen if you’re attending Warped Tour, but best avoided if you’re not.
E.R. Pulgar is a staff writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org