With Confidence

Better Weather

Written by: TL on 11/07/2016 18:50:46

Has it also seemed to you like pop-punk in recent years has been increasingly turned from its sugary traditions into grittier, emotional stuff, full of serious looking bearded dudes pointing meaningfully at something while spitting forth sad lyricism on top of melodious riffage? We're not complaining, but a shout back to the sunnier days of the genre's earlier days isn't bad on occasion. Not for you, of course, you're too mature, but it's nice to have something to give to your little sister, hoping it puts her onto better music in the future, right? You would never listen to an easy pop-rock tune with a sticky chorus, noooo, of course not.

Whether for you or your sister, Australia has a good bid at it in the newcomers with the - admittedly pretty awful - name With Confidence. Their first full-length album "Better Weather" came out in the middle of last month and, spoiler alert, it's pretty decent; in the "quality is immediately apparent" kind of way. Simultaneously, though, it is the kind of record, that has you listening with a bit of a suspicious expression on your face. Did these guys listen to a lot of seminal pop-punk? Oooooor did their label just secretly hire the genre's veterans to write their tunes?

Who knows, but the opening tunes "Voldemort" and "Keeper" certainly sound like something All Time Low could've written in their sleep (the latter also having a tinge of Sparks The Rescue-ishness to it), but with a youthful zest similar to that of England's As It Is. Later on, "Gravity", a slower and more anthemic piece, conjures memories of Yellowcard's contribution to the Spider-Man 2 OST ("Gifts And Curses" kids, listen to it, it's good), with a goofy, theatrical snapping rhythm in the second verse that Marianas Trench would applaud. The echo of Yellowcard also feels present in one of the best tracks, "Dinner Bell", which also feels like a bit of Relient K could be in there, and the Relient K reference lives in the final track on the album as well, the folksy-verse-sporting "Waterfall".

The mentioned suspiciousness that lingers, however, arises mainly from the tempo, which is constantly kept a little rushed, and which causes the album's ten tracks to finish in only 34 short minutes. You feel it in "Archers" and "We'll Be Okay", which also have the superfluous little 'whoa-oh' responses in the vocal patterns that scream "full on pop", and neither track would be out of place on say, an older Miley Cyrus record, or hmm, a Hanson single. And even in the album's best song, the waltzing ballad "Keys" - in which the vocals most display a roughened edge (think Have Mercy's Brian Swindle) that the band wisely deploys sporadically to maintain at least a bit of rawness to their sound - Even here the tempo feels a little bit faster than it needed to be in an otherwise solidly written song.

It feels as if the band (and probably, their producer) have known that if they recorded the songs any slower, the wheels would've come off: That the band's songs are so tightly structured that a slower pass would've made them feel shallow. As things stand, though, they speed by in a light-footed, relatively enjoyable manner, where the energy of each individual song translates instantly, and where the tracks stand apart from each other nicely. There's not a sense of depth or atmosphere to be savoured on more attentive listens, and unless the band is content with simply being the Jonas Brothers of this particular summer, then we suggest they dig for that come time for a follow-up record. But "Better Weather" is nonetheless a record with enough blatantly obvious qualities to make them a name, and with few enough cringy moments to avoid annoying critical listeners too much. It doesn't have quite the charm of the comparable "Never Happy, Ever After" that As It Is dropped last year, which struck a more profound balance between overt poppiness and clear love for the genre's traditions, but it gets close.

7

Download: Keys, Dinner Bell, Gravity
For The Fans Of: As It Is, All Time Low, Yellowcard, Relient K
Listen: facebook.com/hailthesun

Release date 17.06.2016
Hopeless Records

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