There is a ridiculous amount of variation in pop punk as of late. There was one band back in the early days that crossed between pop punk and hardcore in the late 90's. That band was Saves The Day. With their first two full lengths they made a habit of including two step parts sing alongs and breakdowns into their pop punk songs. Very few bands have done that with any true efficiency since.
Well, Rust Belt Lights have brought that back in style. A group containing various Buffalo hardcore mainstays have made a great pop punk album. This is an album meant to be played on both car trips and by a band in vfw halls. Everything clicks from the start of the album with "It Ain't What It Used To Be" leading the charge. The song opens with a strong bassline and speedy drumming leading into a gang chant. Each song sticks to that energy and those basics throughout. Now , I realize all of that sounds pretty simple in general. Things is this is not a groundbreaking album by any means. It is a well played and strong written album with no true curveballs just heartfelt songs. The vocals are where this album seems to stick out from the crowd. Zach, the vocalist, embodies a strange place where he sings with a slight nasal inflection without being whiny and never seems to be out of tune at all. The vocals pull everything together and sit on top of the mix in general yet, no instrument is ignored within the mix. The guitars play strong hooks through every song pushing them along with efficiency. The way the bass is mixed make the album stick out from its peers. Each bassline can be heard loud in the songs granting each song a certain heaviness that gets missed in alot of releases in this style.
The breakdown and melodic vocal part in "Yesteryear" is perfectly placed giving the song a strong climax and sense of drama. The gang chants in "Home Sweet Home" give the song an urgency that would otherwise be lost. These songs are mere highlights among an album of truly strong pop punk by a band that deserves your attention.
8.6 / 10
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