Lille Vega, Copenhagen, DEN - 22/2
Red, Green or Inbetween
Written by: MAK on 07/02/2017 16:45:45
When a band tells you that this is “mainly a break-up album, however, it's not a 'fuck you' album, it's more a 'mad at myself' album”, my instant thoughts go to the likes of New Found Glory’s “My Friends Over You”. Introducing pop-punk newcomers WSTR from Liverpool, United Kingdom with a refreshing, but all too similar take on the sub-genre is their debut album, “Red, Green or Inbetween” — the title of which reflects being stuck in limbo or in the 'in-between'. It's all about kicking yourself for not stepping up when you had the chance and coasting through life making bad decisions.
Funny that I should mention New Found Glory, as “Eastbound & Down” sounds like it could be a forgotten track from the pop-punk icons. WSTR mimic the chirpy hooks, emotional attitude, layered vocals in the captivating chorus and the entrancing, plucky guitar melodies of NFG’s slow-burner type of song. But the track is part of a minority on “Red, Green or Inbetween”, as most of it is full of bouncing energy. Take the 38-second track, “Gobshite”, for example: it’s a short blast of hi-tempo riffs and hard-hitting beats with an infectious sing-along segment. It leads perfectly into “Lonely Smiles” — a typical modern pop-punk hit with the rhythms and energy to have a room jumping off their feet and losing their voices.
In many ways, WSTR sound very much like other UK pop-punk favourites Neck Deep and ROAM. Vocalist Sammy Clifford even sounds almost identical to Neck Deep’s Ben Barlow, apart from in “Eastbound & Down” where his singing is freakishly like Jordan Pundik’s, just adding to the effect of the NFG influences. What makes WSTR stand out, however is the slightly unpolished feel of the album. It’s not underproduced — enough to still make it professional — but there is a grittier tone than most modern pop-punk, and it works in the Liverpool act’s favour. Songs such as “King’s Cup” and “Penultimate” in particular benefit from this. The latter is the ultimate party anthem with distorted-yet-uplifting riffs, impactful drum work and attention grabbing, catchy choruses that would give All Time Low a run for their money. I can imagine it either is or will be a fan-favourite when performed live.
For an album that borrows a lot from its peers, “Red, Green or Inbetween” comes across as a lot more enjoyable than most other albums like it. Maybe it’s a nostalgic reminder of listening to ROAM’s older material, but I think the raw honesty in the songwriting helps and the delivery of each track just adds to the emotion that floods the album.
Download: Gobshite, Lonely Smiles, Penultimate
For the fans of: Neck Deep, ROAM, New Found Glory
Release date 20.01.2017
No Sleep Records