Life Lessons

Written by: PP on 10/12/2014 19:13:36

Well, if you liked "Angst", the debut album by Harrisburg, PA based pop punks Handguns, chances are you'll be satisfied with sophomore album "Life Lessons" as well. Released smack down in the middle of the summer this year, the album is basically a carbon copy of its predecessor, a generic sunshine pop punk album best designed to be played in sub-tropical temperatures without a cloud in sight. All the usual suspects are being referenced in one way or another, be it New Found Glory ("Highway Robbery" is virtually stolen from their early material), Fireworks (NFG v2), or Set Your Goals. I'm sure you could come up with a handful more, which is kind of the point. "Life Lessons" purpose is to cement Handguns as the prototypical pop punk band of the young kids just getting into the genre, who might not already have their favorite records in the genre set in stone.

So whilst the songs are fairly catchy as a group, the overall expression will unavoidably come across as cliché and tired to anyone who's been digging the pop punk scene for five years or more, precisely because of how stubbornly it repeats all the same concepts and songwriting techniques as the best bands in the genre. "Heart Vs. Head" is a perfect example with its summery chorus delivered at a slower, more bounce friendly tempo to induce the crowd into a frenzy, before morphing into a high-speed pace straight after. Textbook defend pop punk material, all we're missing are the gang shouts and bro-friendly sequences, which come to think of it would make "Life Lessons" a way more interesting album than it is.

Towards the second half of the record things pick up slightly with both "I Can't Relate" and "The Loved Ones Who Hate Us" suggesting the band's previously heard passion is still hiding somewhere underneath the polish. Here, the riffs are more crunchy, the vocals come near to a breaking point, and the lead melody is simply awesome. It's just too bad there aren't enough tracks like these two on "Life Lessons" to convince me that it isn't the kind of album that makes some of us feel like pop punk is really dying, even though we know perfectly well that isn't the case in reality (see: The Wonder Years). Generic but decent, that's how "Life Lessons" is best described.


Download: I Can't Relate, The Loved Ones Who Hate Us, Highway Robbery
For the fans of: New Found Glory, Fireworks, Set Your Goals, Hold Tight!
Listen: Facebook

Release date 08.07.2014
Pure Noise Records

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