Don't Bite Your Tongue EP

Written by: PP on 07/06/2011 03:32:24

At what point does a new style pass the critical mass that warrants it being referred to as a trend? That's difficult to say, but I'd say pop-hardcore has sufficient popularity in 2011 to justify using that term. Last year, Harrisburg, PA's Handguns released their debut EP "Anywhere But Home" which followed the rulebook of pop-hardcore from start to finish: bouncy, medium tempo pop punk tracks with a distinct hardcore edge and the occasional breakdown. But given the relative youth of the style, almost anything making its way to the knowledge of the scene at large is awesome, that record being no exception with its ultra-catchy choruses and moshable rhythms.

For their sophomore EP "Don't Bite Your Tongue", Handguns have evolved their sound into a significantly different direction. Where their previous record was catchy and fun, it was also amateurish in production, timing and execution, and those flaws have been honed to a much better stance. Moreover, the band has increased the tempo of their songs considerably, now falling almost into d-beat punk in places given the lightning speed pace and straight-forward melodic punk structures. Breakdowns and the hardcore edge have also been minimized in favour of a more streamlined and better flowing sound, as evident in the two opening tracks "A Year In Review" and "Scream Goodbye". These are tracks that have more in common with, say, Half Hearted Hero than with Set Your Goals, whom the band mirrored on their debut EP.

This approach has two effects which in a way nullify each other. One, the band's material is now more consistent, warranting for much more replay value because the songs are ever so slightly more subtle instead of the blow-wide-open choruses of the debut. The fast structure is bound to put some old fans off, but it'll ensure circle pits and big sing-a-longs instead of walls of death, karate chops and that sort of thing. But it also means that the perceived fun-factor has taken a dent. You are no longer able to bounce up-and-down to simple pop hardcore breakdowns and the accompanying gang shouts. The faster tempo also means that the songs aren't as obviously catchy - "Best Excuse" and "I Hope He Kills You" excluded - which requires a little more listening time before you absorb the sing-a-longs waiting on the record.

But don't get me wrong. "Don't Bite Your Tongue" is still a good EP. It gives the band variety for their live shows as they can choose between two different styles. And since both styles work more or less equally well, the EP will almost certainly be another stepping stone on their journey to wider recognition in the US pop-hardcore scene. I'm halfway expecting that by their eventual full length, the band is going to drop a bombshell of a record and take over the scene with a blast.


Download: Scream Goodbye, Best Excuse, I Hope He Kills You
For the fans of: Same As Sunday, With The Punches, The Movielife
Listen: Bandcamp

Release date 22.02.2011
Pure Noise Records

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