Hot Water Music

Light It Up

Written by: PP on 29/10/2017 19:08:00

It's been way too long since a Hot Water Music album. On the previous album "Exister", Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard sounded like they were getting old and Ragan's solo-work was spilling over to the beloved HWM sound, sparking questions about where the band was going in their elder years. Still, the product was great even if the folksy/country-ish melodies took over a little too much from punk for any "Caution" fans out there. And for those folks, "Light It Up" brings great news. We're back in a similar melodic, depth-laden punk territory that came to define a generation of imitators and spawned an entire sub-genre of punks, often dubbed as beard punk and orgcore, to name but a few terms. Characteristic to all of these bands was a wish to emulate the gravelly vocal style of Ragan and Wollard while trialling a variety of tempos and guitar tones, but a common thread has always been depth-laden melodies, as a result wrapping the style as a whole under the umbrella term of Midwestern punk.

And boy, what an album "Light It Up" is as a result. It sounds like the songwriting fire has been reignited in both Wollard and Ragan's spirit, resulting in absolute bangers like "Never Going Back" or "Rabbit Key". The former is an outright Hot Water Music classic from the get go, where Ragan's charisma shines through his gravelly roars during the back-chilling verses, but the chorus is something else: triumphant "I'm never going back" repetitions are flavored with mouth-wateringly perfect woo-oooh melodies leading to the instant classic line of "if you rest, you rust" shortly thereafter. Likewise, "Rabbit Key" shows Wollard in his best form: its "away...awaaaayyy" bits stick to your memory instantly on first listen, and the uplifting tone of the song is pure bliss on your ears.

If you're looking for something different: "Complicated" is your straight up Midwestern punk song but works brilliantly thanks to Ragan's raspy roars. The title track could've been on a Bad Religion album if you didn't know better, and the rhythmic pulsations of "Overload" make it the funkiest track on the album where especially the bass lines shine.

But aside from these few picks, songs like "Vultures", "Sympathizer", "High Class Catastrophe" all have their respective qualities that make them great. The latter's slower tempo allows Ragan's scratchy expression to sound extra special, for instance. What I'm getting at here is that there are no tracks where you're put off on the record. "Light It Up" is classic Hot Water Music through and through. Depth-laden, intelligent man's punk rock with brilliant melodies make it a candidate for the punk rock album of the year from a band that seems to never release anything beneath a rock solid rating. This one is their best work since "Caution", hands down, and a great place to start exploring the discography of one of the most important bands in punk rock if you've always been looking for a way into the cult.

Download: Never Going Back, Rabbit Key, Vultures, Complicated, Sympathizer, Overload
For the fans of: Ship Thieves, Small Brown Bike, Polar Bear Club, Jawbreaker
Listen: Facebook

Release date 15.09.2017
Rise Records

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