I’ve got a real turbulent relationship with pop-punk. I’ve mentioned it before, in a previous review, but it bears repeating: pop-punk has a habit of being painfully generic and falling into stereotypes. Those stereotypes are generally guitars drenched in sunny-sounding overdrive and lyrics that tell of love, lust and little in between.
That being said, I’ve been surprised by Watch The Sky. Their EP dropped in mid-2013, so I’m a little late to the party with this one. But their EP deserves a write-up, as it’s a good example of how pop-punk SHOULD be done by new artists. Yes, it adheres to the time-tested-and-repeated structures and form, but it does so without coming across too generic.
Opening track ‘Thoughts’ is arguably the best track on the EP – it opens with a frantic flourish of pop-punk guitars. But the strength of this song lies in the opening lines of the verses – the guitar work is marvellous. It focuses on accentuating the back-and-forth guitar hook which keeps you listening. It then progresses onto a palm-muted quiet-loud dynamic shift – something used so often in this genre. But there’s just enough release on each note to avoid it being just another throwaway song. And the bridge of the song makes sure your attention is maintained.
The main issue with the EP is the vocals – they’re not always powerful enough to carry the songs. There are times during the EP that the songwriting is perfectly done and there is a chorus that has the potential to be huge, but the vocals then let them down. Final track ‘Walls’ is the best example of this – the chorus has the potential to be a huge singalong one, but the vocals on the recording aren’t quite dominating enough to do this.
But the sound of the EP is gripping enough to mask this for the most part. Each track sounds quite different (the only exceptions being ‘Thoughts’ and third track ‘Late Nights and Bright Lights’, which open similarly), displaying a different shade of their pop-punk sound. And this is enough to set them miles ahead of many of their upcoming pop-punk peers. ‘Walls’ shows this as good as any, with its sound sharing more similarities with post-hardcore than pop-punk.
And it’s little things like this that make Watch The Sky interesting. Their EP is a fine piece of alt-rock that, despite some flaws, is worth listening to. And you can do just that, and download it for free, here.