Combining the sensitivity and emotion of emo and matching it with the easy going bounciness of pop-punk is no easy feat. Yet, for Tennessee’s Free Throw, the task appears to be pretty simple. Slick melodies meet passionate vocal performances and blood-stained lyrics in a manner that feels both open and genuine.
The band’s first two releases, 2014’s ‘Those Day’s Are Gone’ and 2017’s ‘Bear Your Mind’, showed potential and promise, but now on their third effort, ‘What’s Past Is Prologue’, the five-piece are upping the ante with a real sense of purpose.
First and foremost, the hardest thing to ignore about this band is the sheer power and ferocity that Cory Castro gets behind his vocals. At times, like on ‘Smokes, Let’s Go’ and ‘Stay In The Basement’, soft, heartfelt melodies show a more reserved side, but then bursts of energy push his lungs to full capacity.
Tracks like ‘Tail Whip, Struggle’ and ‘Anaconda Vice’ see near-limit cleans filter into scathing screams, and really add a dirty sense of grit that ultimately ramps these tracks up in intensity.
Castro admitted that the clear theme of the record was the struggles of mental health, and that’s quite clear through the lyrics on show. “I’m spinning out of control” is the cry heard on the aforementioned ‘Anaconda Vice’, while the saddening line “drinking for breakfast has become a life I’ve invested in” on ‘Today Is Especially Delicious’ sees Castro baring his scars to the world. Mental health is the blood running through the veins of this record, and Castro‘s honesty deserves celebrating, for it adds so much to the record.
Yet, nothing is ever completely bleak, melodies of punchy pop-punk linger like a fresh sense of hope. There’s not a great deal of snappy choruses, but there’s still enough hooks to keep the momentum and energy flowing through the album. Nice touches like having the same opening mirrored on the finale and title-track also draw a satisfying sense of conclusion.
‘What’s Past Is Prologue’ holds a solid balance between joyous musicality and brutally melancholic emo lyrics. As such, this record feels like a positive step forward in Free Throw‘s discography, while not straying far from what we’ve heard before.
Writer for DEAD PRESS! | Literature undergrad with a love for all things punk | Often found sipping on coffee or craft beer, whilst attempting to write some words.