Band: Major League
Album: Hard Feelings
Label: No Sleep Records
Genre: Pop Punk / Easycore
Do you remember back when the music made by easycore bands didn’t necessarily have breakdowns every 30 seconds? Yes, there was a time where easycore mainly referred to pop punk with tinges of hardcore, and it didn’t have breakdowns or growls. As far as the term went, easycore was founded in the 90s with bands like New Found Glory and Saves the Day being seen as the pioneers of what was happening in pop punk at the time. Over the past few years, there’s been a resurgence of what is considered as easycore, but it wasn’t until I came across Major League in 2010 that I saw a smaller band get it right. Now the band is set to really take off now that their latest album, Hard Feelings, has been released through No Sleep Records.
Without trying to seem pessimistic about it, I wish I could put my finger on what it is that makes Hard Feelings a worthwhile pop punk record. The best reason I could come up with is that even though the band doesn’t bring anything completely new to the table, it doesn’t sound like some counterfeit “product” made by some kids who heard Blink-182, A Day To Remember, The Wonder Years and decided to mix all of the above together in hopes of playing shows half the size of what they play– It just sounds like a really good rendition of what pop punk is.
For those familiar with the band and their old material, Hard Feelings feels toned town to some capacity (with the exception of some songs on the record). Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that it will likely throw off longtime fans of the band. The record is so much more smoother in comparison to the band’s more abrasive early-discography. Don’t let “toned down” translate as relaxed though, think of it more as a description for the album’s mix. Rest assured that guitarist Bryan Joyce (still) pulls no punches with his lyrics.
Major League starts the record off hard, fast, and quick with the album’s title track clocking in a 1:04. Now that’s what I call punk rock. In all honesty, “Walk Away”, the album’s leading single, has no appeal to me whatsoever. It’s not like it’s a bad song, it’s more like it’s a boring song. I mean, I know that this genre is founded on repetitive choruses, but it’s just that this song’s chorus feels way too repetitive. “Nightmares” picks things up once more with an unapologetic post-breakup song. You can literally feel your own chest lightening as the song closes with it’s final chorus. “Arrows Crossed” is a song that’s all about moving on in a difficult life, which is something that is easily relateable.
The album’s second half is where the band really shines. “Because Heaven Knows” is a song that really hits close to home for me with it’s lyrics about losing somebody that’s close in your life and trying to remember them with everything that you do from the moment that they leave this planet. While I’ve never been in a similar situation myself, “Homewrecker” looks to be lyrically directed at a father who had left a family behind as a way out. You can really feel the anger behind the song. The instrumentals just have that extra oomph of aggression. If it’s not the music that reflects this anger, you can really feel it when you hear Trask sing out the following lines towards the very end of the song, “and when your son grows up, I hope he sees the coward and the crook, and the world you took away from me.”
“Final Thoughts” brings the beginning of a resolution to the post-breakup theme of the album, and one of the album’s better tracks, “Need I Remind You” finishes it all off . If the track sounds familiar, it’s because it is: the song was released acoustically on the band’s Variables EP back in 2011. It was smart to bring this song back electrically for this album, as it really fits in and provides closure.
This record could be so much better if it only had more distinguishing factors to it. On the upsides, the lyrics are great, but lyrics can only take a band so far. The group could not sound any more tighter than they do on this release. There was a lot accomplished on Hard Feelingsthat made it seem to be the band’s most genuine effort to date. The main downside is that there’s this prevalent feeling that the instrumental side of the band didn’t get as creative as they could have been. Once the band gets that up to speed, the group would be able to reach out to more crowds than just the scene’s pop punk bubble.
No hard feelings, Major League.
Review written by: Adrian Garza (Twitter)