Louder Than Bombs - What Resonates
Record Label: South Division Records
Release Date: April 23, 2013
There was a roughly twelve month period where I thought that pop punk had left me behind. Any time I listened to a new pop punk band, I quickly reached for my copy of High Violet or The Suburbs and instantly found myself in a more comfortable position and a little bit happier about the sounds that were flowing into my ears. It was with a heavy heart that I allowed my copies of Say It Like You Mean It and Four Hour Train Back To Penn grow dust at the back of my cupboard whilst I focused on more 'mature' genres. Then with the excitement surrounding Paramore and The Story So Far's recent releases and the news about The Greatest Generation, I couldn't help but get carried away with everyone else on the site. So, I put on a pair of baggy shorts (theoretically, that is - Ireland is a cold, cold country) and howled out the lyrics to "My Friends Over You" (in my head - I was listening to it on a busy bus with my earphones in and I still have a little bit of hope that I possess social acceptability despite the fact that I spend my nights listening to bands such as Crywank and The Front Bottoms) and with that, it dawned on me - pop punk can be awesome whatever age or stage of life that one is at, you've just got the be listening to the right pop punk.
Now that I've gotten the least philosophical or socially relevant epiphany of all time out of the way, it's time for us to focus on the band at hand. Louder Than Bombs are a prog rock band with indie pop leanings and a taste for Skrillex-esque drops. I'M JOKING, PLEASE KEEP READING. Now I'm going I'm going to leave my wonderful sense of humour behind and actually get on to reviewing. Louder Than Bombs are one of those pop punk bands that makes the future of the genre look that little bit better. Firstly, the Smiths-onian reference sets them off to a head start. However, Louder Than Bombs are so much more than a genre and a hipster reference. What Resonates is a collection of ten pop punk nuggets. The record is perfectly balanced between gruff melodic hardcore and sugary pop hooks, and it's that skillful melding that makes them great at what they do. Opener "Haunted" is a high tempo, exhilarating introduction to the band. Although lacking the catchiness that later tracks command, it's a perfect mission statement. It gets better from there. "No News Is Good News" and "Tense" are catchy as hell, the subtle choruses and riff exchanges makes procedures seem that little more organic than we're used to from the genre. Possibly, that's why What Resonates is a great record. Production hasn't been thrown at every little aspect and the band never seem particularly interested in showing off or trying to impress. It's an album that a fan can connect with, because it's a band of fans, rather than the shiny disconnectedness that bands at any level of their career seem to be preferring recently.
Aside from how damn likable each aspect is, these guys certainly have musical chops. The main vocals are excellent - gruff enough to never become saccharine but soft enough to maintain singalong-ability. With the occasional duel vocals, Louder Than Bombs somewhat bring to mind a less breakdown focused version of early Set Your Goals - and that's meant in the best way possible. The instrumentation is also spot on. They have a perfect command of when to rely on heavier aspects of their arsenal but are simultaneously capable of pulling out a catchy, clean riff. Their lack of reliance on any particular fad, or aspect of the genre gives each track a freshness and an endearing musical honesty. Highlights are frequent, but "Reveal Itself"'s snappy, accessible edge makes it a must listen for any possible fan.
Hell, what Louder Than Bombs do has probably been done before. And will probably be done again. But they do it quite wonderfully and that's coming from the most cynical of pop punk fans. Sometimes, repetition is a problem and occasionally the lyrics are little more than just another instrument, but these are problems that Louder Than Bombs can fix as they develop their sound in the future. If you're looking for a band to fill in the gaps between Hot Water Music and Fireworks in your record collection, don't let these guys pass you by.