Light The Way – False Memory Syndrome – REVIEW

Pop-punk is a genre that has stood the test of time and it continues to provide us with iconic bands. Bands which have not just defined the genre, but coloured it’s zeitgeist and shaped the course of music history – for every successful band is standing on the shoulders of it’s predecessors. So there is always an amount of influence, no doubt. The genre has exploded, and while it’s given us some gems, it’s also granted us a great deal of stagnancy and mediocrity too. The sheer quantity of carbon copy pop-punk bands these days has caused something of an identity crisis and it’s increasingly rare to find something outwardly and distinctly original. And into the fold step Sacramento’s Light The Way.

They are another who are anchored by those before them, except we’re reaching back for the most part in decades. With a sound heralding of the 90’s and 00’s, their debut full album False Memory Syndrome is something of a throwback to the likes of Yellowcard, The Offspring, Sum 41 and New Found Glory. Somewhere in the mix a fresher note can be detected though, but it’s a fleeting dash of Neck Deep, or a weight more associated with The Story So Far. Make no mistake though, the predominant sound is of old-school pop-punk.

If one thing is constant about pop-punk though, it’s singing about your friends, your parents and your hometown. Not much has changed here, opening intro Bruh leads straight into But My Mom Says I’m Cool. The distant, soaring chorus is straight out of a Yellowcard textbook, whereas the chalky, screechy style found in Thrillhouse could easily be mistaken for Deryck Whibley. Both songs are rampant homages, yet carry a finesse traceable to Knuckle Puck. The following interlude Put A Sock In It Roy is equally as Sum 41-esque for twenty-nine seconds of aimless, indeterminate rage.

The next three tracks continue to resurface old fragrances with wild changes of direction in between. Broken Hearts opts to change pace, as a bassline lead intro sets a Green Day vibe, to be unpredictably pivoted into a bouncy, synthetic style – the resulting sound resembles that of Asteria. Brain Rot is classic The Offspring but laced up with a hellish pop-punk blastbeat – again Knuckle Puck-ish. Veritas is a sore thumb though, it’s like a long-lost Linkin Park excerpt which is somewhere it doesn’t belong.

Lost The Handle and Still Edge work brilliantly as a pair, both including screeching guitar parts much like pop-punk newcomers Giants. The former is calmer and brighter vocally, a nod towards Mark Hoppus – but the drift to more recent pop-punk tones is more prominently explored on the latter, where there are relentlessly nauseous verses, drudging build ups, and harsh vocals.

Even though it’s late in the album, Light The Way show great awareness to reserve their trump card Holy Ghost for penultimate billing. After showcasing so much influence up to this point, this is their most original sound, which in effect translates influence directly into originality. This is sharply u-turned by Snapping Necks And Cashing Cheques which is outright New Found Glory with better vocals. It’s whingey in the right way, pop-punk at it’s finest and an excellent, summarising parting shot.

The familiarity of 90’s/00’s pop-punk is smartly fused with modern incarnations of the genre, so it’s a pleasant nostalgic journey for the mid-twenty audience yet one with surprising, serendipitous moments. A palpably deliberate sound affords something for pop-punk bands right across the board to access – and given how fans of the genre tend to pick and polarise, this means Light The Way are a marketable sound. False Memory Syndrome is a pre-meditated effort, a reprisal which takes the listener back and forth through essentially the entire pop-punk timeline and arrives at something which is carefully considered and original. This manifests as versatility rather than plagiarism, and in a genre which struggles immensely with homogeneity, Light The Way are a breath of fresh and familiar air: 10/10.

 

False Memory Syndrome is out 30th March via Indie Vision Music. Head over to their Facebook in the meantime.

Neck Deep – The Peace and The Panic

The last few years have been a wild ride for Neck Deep. Regardless of their setbacks, their success is undeniable. Now, the band are ready to drop their third album The Peace and The Panic, and show no signs of slowing down. Is it all we’ve been waiting for, though?

Opening the album are Motion Sickness and Happy Judgement Day, two tracks that bounce along to a fairly familiar Neck Deep formula. It’s catchy, upbeat pop punk. There is some stylistic variation compared to older material, most notably a more nasal, almost American tone to Barlow’s vocals. It’s not so significant that it’ll make or break the album for many, but it is definitely recognisable.

Track number three, The Grand Delusion moves along in a similar manner before we run into Parachute. Parachute introduces some more poppy vibes, and rewards us with a more anthemic tune documenting a desire to get out, see and do things in the world. Although it’s lighter in nature, it’s a happy callback to the huge songs that we heard on their second album Life’s Not Out To Get You. Having said that, it’s lyrical content is slightly basic in places.

In Bloom is one of the biggest curveballs on the album, and may be a dividing line for many. It’s a light, alt-rock piece with lots of pop influences also exemplified in its music video. It’s definitely a song to grow on you though. Once you’re familiar with the style, the chorus comes through as a strong centrepiece surrounded by jubilant guitar tones.

From the album’s lightest album to its heaviest, Don’t Wait features Sam Carter of Architects, who drops an ample amount of throaty screams. Don’t Wait brings out some more of the political themes suggested on the album’s cover and predominantly in Happy Judgement Day. It’s angsty and suspicious. Carter’s vocals initially come in alone, but are soon layered with Barlow’s singing in a surprisingly effective medley.

With Critical Mistake, the album sadly begins to err. It’s another upbeat, pop-rock style song, but falls victim to feeling superficial and shallow. Barlow’s vocals lack any grit here, and whilst that’s clearly the aim, it comes across in poor taste. Wish You Were Here introduces an acoustic guitar in a ballad reminiscing about a late friend. It’s a moment for pause as it becomes clear that members of the band have undergone serious pain in the last few years, and the duality of The Peace and The Panic becomes apparent. It’s no musical prodigy, but it at least feels heartfelt.

The closing stages of the album are another mixed bunch. Heavy Lies lacks serious innovation, we’re back in the Neck Deep comfort zone, but it’s not innately flawed. There’s a singalong friendly chorus and some sweet couplets before we move into 19 Seventy Sumthin’. Both for the band and its fans, 19 Seventy Sumthin’ is likely to be one of the most poignant tracks on the album due to the passing of Ben’s father, Terry Barlow, of “Fuck Neck Deep mate, Ben’s Dad owns a record label!” fame. It’s nice to see it’s not purely a miserable song; the band turn it into a celebration of the man’s life and relationship. A narrative is brought out here that many will value, running up to the sad final day.

The Peace and The Panic‘s final song is Where Do We Go When We Go. Thematically, this is a great way to close off the album with one of the questions that have clearly been haunting Neck Deep. That said, it is one of the weaker songs on the album. A light voice sample brings it in, before the band move through the motions. There’s nothing to be said against the thought behind the song, but the chorus is unimaginative.

In all, The Peace and The Panic has some thoroughly enjoyable songs on it, but comes across as a rather confused record. There’s nothing wrong with trying to introduce some stylistic variation within an album, but Neck Deep‘s album seems torn between two polarising styles. The album certainly has its merits, and many will adore it, but it is relevant to suggest that a lack of stylistic continuity might be jarring for some listeners. Furthermore, the band flirted with their nuclear / political style, but never truly dedicated to it, leaving to the wayside a theme that could have united the various hands dealt by The Peace and The Panic.

[6/10]

HIGHLIVES Release New Video

Bristol’s pop-punk outfit HIGHLIVES have recently released their newest single Nothing Left, their previous EP titled Misguided garnered them huge attention and resulted in them sharing stages with bands like Neck Deep and As It Is.

“The track explores how a negative mind-set can push someone away in a romantic relationship whilst reflecting on the feelings that come with the absence of a loved one.” – HIGHLIVES

Check out the lyric video for Nothing Left below:

Catch the band at the following dates:

SEPTEMBER

Wednesday 20th – Exchange, Bristol (w/ Milestones & Gospel Youth)

Saturday 30th – Deadbolt Festival, Manchester

NOVEMBER

Thursday 9th – The Ballroom, Canterbury

Friday 10th – Harvey’s, Luton

Saturday 11th – The Attic, Torquay

Sunday 12th – Crofter’s Rights, Bristol

Neck Deep announce UK headline tour!

Neck Deep are proud to announce The Peace and The Panic UK headline tour for October, the band’s biggest tour to date! Neck Deep will play the following venues:

OCTOBER:
04: BELFAST Mandela Hall
05: DUBLIN The Workmans Club
07: NEWCASTLE o2 Academy
08: GLASGOW o2 Academy
09: NOTTINGHAM Rock City
11: NORWICH UEA
12: CARDIFF Great Hall
13: LONDON o2 Brixton Academy
14: MANCHESTER o2 Apollo

Slam Dunk Festival announce another wave of bands

Slam Dunk Festival is becoming one of the UK’s most-beloved one day festivals. Spanning three days in May, the festival’s bill is starting to fill up nicely.

Joining the likes of Enter ShikariNeck DeepBowling For Soup and many more are:

We Are The Ocean, playing one of their final shows.
Frank Iero
Deaf Havana
The Maine
Stray From The Path
Sorority Noise
Seaway
Boston Manor
WSTR
Crime In Stero
Too Close To Touc

This is great mix of talent from the UK and around the world. You can see the full poster below.

Citizen, Turnover and more announced for Slam Dunk

If you are looking forward to Slam Dunk Festival, this latest announcement will appeal to two sides of your musical personality. On the pop punk side you have Neck DeepSet It OffCitizen and Turnover and for your metalcore side of things you have Memphis May FireOceans Ate AlaskaIce Nine Kills and I Prevail who are making their UK debut at this festival.

You can check out the full lineup above with a video to Citizen below!

Homebound release new song ‘Headspace’

Pop punk in the UK has been on a resurgence recently with a lot of bands releasing songs and announcing EP/Albums as well. The same can be said for Homebound who have released their latest track ‘Headspace‘ into the world. This also coincides with their EP announcement ‘The Mould You Build Yourself Around‘ which will see its release soon. In the meantime, check out the new single below!