Liverpudlian mob WSTR have been steadily building themselves up to the forefront of UK pop-punk for a few years now, with 2017’s ‘Red, Green Or Inbetween’ seeing them channel their pissed-off, snotty punk to produce a real powerful debut release.
Flash-forward just a little over a year, the group are now signed to Hopeless Record, and are ready to embrace a far bigger sound on their sophomore record ‘Identity Crisis’.
First things first, this is a record that shows a lot of growth in the WSTR camp. The four-piece take on a broader sound derived from a range of influences across the spectrum of rock and beyond, and, as such, the record does lose a fair bit of the stroppiness and angst that made its predecessors so fun. Nonetheless, ‘Identity Crisis’ is a good crack in its own way.
Bursting in with ‘Tell Me More’, it’s a bite-size gem and a real bop of an opener, installing a driving, melodic zip into the album’s core right from the off. Following that, bouncy, bopping singles ‘Crisis’ and the stompy ‘Bad To The Bone’ follow suit, keeping up a head-bang worthy momentum that fits the WSTR catalogue.
There are still flashes of the grittier WSTR across the record, with ‘Promiscuous’ and ‘Silly Me’ showing frontman Sammy Clifford at his more ill-tempered and resentful, cutting the broken-hearted figure that the band’s debut record showed off so well.
Vocally, Clifford seems to opt for a little less scratchy grit with each new release, shown here by the majority of clean vocals on this record. Where he really shines through, however, is on ‘Fling’ and the repeat-worthy ‘Hide Everything Sharp’, where he channels hip-hop inspired, Drake-esque rap-sung vocals that add a killer dynamic to the chugging pop-punk beneath.
Elsewhere, influences from Weezer on ‘The Latest’ gives the track a broader rock spin, while the Cliff Richard parody on the album’s compulsory acoustic track ‘See You In Hell’ is both catchy and enjoyable, even if it is quite childish and petulant.
‘Identity Crisis’ feels like a natural progression for the Liverpudlians, even if it meant sacrificing the rawer aspect of what they do. The record still offers the hook-filled bangers you come to expect from the group, but here, they’re unafraid to mix in some wider, genre-blurring sounds. It’s a big step forward for the band, and one that will surely only see WSTR get bigger and bigger.