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AS WE ARE- As We Are

Playing pop-punk in 2018 is a risky game. The genre hit its commercial—and some would argue creative—peak over 20 years ago. What was already a subgenre of punk rock and alternative rock has since splintered even further to the point that bands seem to take one of three directions: watering the punk side down so much so that it’s nearly unrecognizable (Five Seconds of Summer), mixing it with emo (A New Found Glory) or making it revivalistic and trying to recreate the heyday of Green Day and MxPx.

Bands who do pop-punk well without falling into any these categories are rare. That’s why I was so surprised when I popped this short album into my car’s CD player. From the opening notes, As We Are had me hooked—and I’m a jaded 40-something, so that is difficult to do.

It’s just that the songs here are so catchy, so fresh, so energetic. I didn’t care that it was pop-punk, a genre I don’t too easily fall for, I was too busy rocking out to notice. You know an album has something rare when you start trying to sing-along on the first listen. Take the standout cut “Made a Difference” for instance. The opening riff is reminiscent of easy-core (you know, like hardcore but softer) with the semi-shouted:

We’re falling farther

from where we started

Life’s getting harder

but our voice is louder

If I point my finger at you

There’s three pointing back at me

If we could love each other

We could make a difference you and me...

Throughout the disc, lyrics have a similar feel. Their faith undergirds things, but never gets preachy. They choose rather to keep things positive. And in true punk rock style, there are plenty of whoa-oh’s to go around.

It doesn’t hurt that the EP is incredibly well-produced as well. The guitars are crisp and clean without being so sugary sweet that you feel you’re drinking straight from the syrup bottle. And the drums—it’s not often when I can actually pay attention to each crash, each symbol, but this is one of those times. My only complaint is that there are times when I would like to hear the bass a little bit louder in the mix.

(Raven Faith Records) 4 out of 5 stars

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