Junior Battles


Written by: PP on 05/10/2014 18:02:29

Following up on such a brilliant debut album as "Idle Ages" is a daunting task. "Rally" is a great attempt at matching that success in contemporary pop punk songwriting while simultaneously allowing the band to evolve as a unit sound wise. It's by no means a repeat of "Idle Ages", but let's just put it this way: if you liked its intellectually tuned, emotive and angsty pop punk themed around a concept of self-actualization and self-reflexion, there's plenty more of that stuff to be found here. The Punchline-inspired pop punk soundscape is still the red thread throughout the release, where the vocals are purposefully whiny and emo-laden to distinguish the band from the vast majority of their brighter and more glossy contemporaries in the genre.

Just like on "Idle Ages", the opening song and the closing song tie together melody-wise, using the same lines over slightly different compositions, but which are close enough to easily make an observation that they are connected. This brings forth the key strength of Junior Battles in general, which is their ability to create a fantastic lyrical universe which can be construed in a number of different ways depending on your perspective. They sing about growing up and life as a young 20-something adult, but they package it into a smart, witty expression and unusual vocal melodies that really sound like no other pop punk bands out there. We've recently seen Everything Ever try something very similar on their excellent debut album, no doubt inspired by Junior Battles in particular. The best examples are "Three Whole Years", which is almost like lyrical poetry when it comes to its analysis of the overwhelming role of the smart phone in our daily lives, and "Assholes On Rollerblades", which is a high-octane pop punker that still manages to include great lyricism despite its breakneck speed pace.

But if there's one thing missing from "Rally" that made "Idle Ages" an album-of-the-year candidate, it's that the songs aren't quite as catchy. Don't get me wrong - there are still plenty of easily likable tracks like "Bunk" on the record, which dabbles with no frills pop punk for a brief moment - but the combination of depth-laden songwriting and infectiously catchy, energetic choruses isn't quite as strong here. Aside from the songs mentioned earlier, "Rafts" is another solid track, but that's about where it ends in terms of the songs you can call brilliant with good conscience. The remainder of tracks are still solid, upbeat pop punk with intriguing melody lines and unusual vocal patterns, but they regrettably don't possess the same "wow" factor as most of "Idle Ages" did. That said, "Rally" is still a very good album within the genre, but just in the context of the future-classic status of its predecessor, it feels a little bit underwhelming in comparison.

Download: Three Whole Years, Rafts, Assholes On Rollerblades, (You Are Very Good At) Sports
For the fans of: Punchline, Everything Ever, Thieves, Banquets
Listen: Facebook

Release date 27.05.2014
Paper + Plastick

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