The recent resurgence of pop-punk has been quite evident for all to see. With such notable examples as The Story So Far playing the main stage at Reading/Leeds Festival and The Wonder Years‘ recent record clocking in at number 20 on the Billboard 200, it’s fair to say that the scene has significant success under its belt. So, what can West Yorkshire’s own You Had Me At Hello contribute to the scene with their debut record? Well, to be honest, not a lot.
The sheer and unequivocal issue with ‘Spirals’ is that it’s unremarkable. There is the minor exception of two tracks, ‘Tonight You Lost’ and ‘Build The Rest Of Me’, but even then the album fails to push the envelope or spark an ignite of innovation. And, unfortunately, that’s the cut and dry of it.
You Had Me At Hello display a somewhat pseudo-hybrid sound, which seems to come across in a confused fashion and come up with mixed results. The opening four tracks of ‘Spirals’ showcase the band performing a familiar array of pop-punk material which is totally ineffective and, frankly, tiresome. However, as soon as the record clocks in at track seven, ‘Tonight You Lost’, we’re subject to a sudden surge in energy and an alt-rock lead guitar section with a sense of urgency. Then, immediately afterwards, we’re subject to a catchy pop-punk offering in the shape of ‘Build The Rest Of Me’.
Unfortunately, after track eight, that’s about as much as ‘Spirals’ can offer in terms of spontaneity and satisfaction. There’s an acoustic track, entitled ‘Yes You Are’, however, the track suggests a sense of cliché rather than offering a sense of nuance, a mere attempt at balance.
In retrospect, ‘Spirals’ isn’t a poor album, rather, it suffers from a sense of over familiarity which evolves into the notion that the record is unremarkable. You Had Me At Hello are capable musicians and songwriters, which is evident in tracks such as ‘Tonight You Lost’. However, this record plunges through a familiar formula, which is tiresome unless it’s incorporated with some nuance, hence why bands such as Gnarwolves strike a chord with their abrasive nature of punk and rallying lyricism.
So, will You Have Me At Hello be joining the nu-wave of pop-punk bands that are keeping the genre alive? The answer to that question remains to be seen. However, judging on the material on show here, they won’t be touted as responsible for keeping the genre alive or progressing it. Stranger things have happened though, and there’s still time.
Written by Calv Robinson (@CalvParty)
Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.