Crybaby are one of those punk bands where you could fill a review with subgenre tags and namedrops and every review would pick a different one to highlight. There’s a lot of stylistic variance, a lot of influence, but it comes together as Crybaby instead of some hyphenated slurry of ‘90s and ’00s bands. Instead, I’ll just say it’s DIY punk. The vocals are scratchier than sing-song, the production is adequate but somewhat muddy, and the harmonies are imperfectly perfect.
Crybaby takes some early soaring emo, mixes with pop-punk melody, and some hardcore crunch. In the end it’s melodic punk with a little more heart on its sleeve instead of the whoa-ohs. Matt’s coarse vocals come through atop driving chords that carry the sway of each song. Guitar pushes the songs forward, the lyrics pull, and the rhythm makes the variance in emotion, topic, and melody connect. Drag Me Under is cathartic through and through, more sing along let yourself go than woeful, downtrodden recklessness.
It cracks and breaks where others would sulk and smash. The lead guitar in “Imperial Slug” hits with a groovy edge over some basic bass drums in a chantier changeup midway through but, suddenly, when the guitars hit, it takes on that crunchy element that’s less refined, less predictable. That’s the message all the way through Crybaby: play a style of music that’s built on familiarity, but with enough interruption that’s its new and real. Sticking with the same song as an example, the feedback that cuts through the middle point showcases that melody meets destruction mode, shifting gears without remixing the concept. “LoFi” is the expected downer tempo one likes to associate with the “emo” term, then it’s immediately countered with the 1:35 long “Storm Drain” which is one of the punker tunes on the record, more straight forward and shout-out-loud than the meandering structures that usually take over.
With 12 songs, lots of feedback, and a voice that sounds like it’s been decrying circumstance all the night long, Drag Me Under carries the torch for emotional highs and lows. When “Crybaby” (yes, they seemingly named a song after themselves) lets it soar, it’s to a cry of “I feel like nothing, nothing at all.” The record is tinged in darkness that’s at times over the top and tongue in cheek, other times morose and real.
Matt’s voice can get repetitive and lacks in range, making it somewhat monotone when the songs don’t have those highs and lows, which does hinder the overall flow of the album. It gets samey from time to time, with nearly every song having a point where the instruments drift out for a second as a screeching feedback overtakes it, seemingly in substitution for vocal range. Then, with melody faded, it jumps back into the fray. It’s both powerful and deconstructive when it goes back and forth, killing the momentum but with something of a symbolic punch.
A good record, but a little more variation would go a long way.
7.7 / 10
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