Artist: With the Punches
Album: Seams and Stitches
Genre: Pop Punk
Label: Doghouse Records
There is a style of pop-punk that I don’t like. It’s the poppy-breakdown kind. There are some bands out there that just have this sound, may it be something in their vocals or their guitar tones that I find very bland, boring, and frankly annoying. Sometimes they have breakdowns, and that I find that deafeningly stupid (rule of thumb, if you have to have a breakdown in your pop-punk song do everything you can to make it sound nothing like Chunk! No Captain Chunk). With the Punches were one of the bands that were a part of this genre that I could tolerate. They didn’t beat you over the head with breakdowns, but sometimes the treaded the line of cliché and annoying. I said it, I’m not sorry about it. However With the Punches changed their game completely with their new record. Seams and Stitches is a much more thought out record that breaks away from the pop-punk stereotype a lot of young bands fall into and instead they show a more polished effort that fans of the genre will love.
There is one important thing to note before we start breaking things down: while With the Punches is definitely a recognizable name (at least on the East Coast where I live), Seams and Stitches is still a debut release. With the Punches has only put out two EPS (Keep It Going, and It’s Not the End of the World) that were solid, but were nothing to write home about. I still loved the guys and would get my stage dive on during their sets, but musically speaking it wasn’t anything that hasn’t been heard. Seams and Stiches musically is one of the catchiest albums of this year, hands down. Some bands don’t like being called catchy cause that invokes some sort of gimmick being involved, but I don’t think that’s the case at all with these New York boys. You listen to the record and the hooks are stuck in your head the minute you hear them, and that is attributed to the awesome guitar work by Dustin Wallace and vocal melodies by Jesse Vadala. I’m a huge fan of the general sound of the record because it’s at a break neck speed that is perfect for running across a stage and doing a forward roll into a crowd (note, I did not say stage dive, cause you are a scrub if you actually superman stage dive these days. Do a flip or something and be creative). Stand out tracks include “Bad Pennies,” and “Harvard on the Hudson,” because frankly I cannot stop singing them. They’re so much fun and are what Summer pretty much sounds likes. This is the kind of music that the kids are going to have an absolute ball with live, myself included. It’s perfect for piling on and screaming at the top of your lungs with your best friend while you think about the girl or friend that makes you feel the way the lyricist does on the record.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t have some sort of criticism, so I think if I had to say one thing it’d have to be the record loses a little steam after “I Told You Already”. However if you compare those songs to other releases from other bands in the same genre, they still are a lot better and more fun. However for me personally after “I Told You Already” (maybe it’s because I think this song is absolutely gorgeous) things just seem to slow down for me. Lyrically, the concepts are not new, but somehow Jesse still makes them feel fresh. A lot of the record has to do with the changing of friends, going after your dreams, and becoming the best version of yourself. Standard stuff, but it never feels rehashed.
With the Punches is one of those bands that people will love or hate this summer. They have a very distinct sound that most fans of the genre will enjoy, while some of the more jaded folk will write off as too poppy. Is that a bad thing? For me, generally yes. The more poppy-tinged pop-punk is generally boring as hell to me. Yet With the Punches’ new record is basically a shining example of what pop-punk is today. They have that punk ethic and drive, but still finding a way to put the right melodies over their fast punchy music. With the Punches’ Seams and Stiches is going to be one of the albums when I think of Summer 2012, and I’m really happy that’s the case because not only is the album fantastic, but the band garner the recognition that they deserve after working tirelessly these past few years.
Review written by Tyler Osborne