Stepfriends - All We’ve Got
Release Date: June 2014
Record Label: Unsigned
When we premiered three tracks of off Stepfriends’ debut album last month, the response was even better than anyone could have expected. Everybody seemed to like the tracks and the band’s airy, almost progressive pop-punk sound. Hopefully everybody’ll still be paying attention when All We’ve Got drops in June, because it’s just more of that good stuff.
It’s hard to pinpoint a precise sound for Stepfriends, but I think my description above is pretty fair. There’re some simple pop-punk tracks (“Collide Collapse,” “Strangers, Friends, and Pictures”), some more emo styled songs (“Renovation,” “Quiet Place”), some more progressive almost Circa Survive sounding songs (“Scared to Death”), and everything in between. Circa Survive or The Dear Hunter would be good references for the sound of “Scared to Death,” especially since Johnny Lucas sounds comparable to Anthony Green or a young Casey Crescenzo on the track – it’s in his high, smooth voice, which at other times sounds like The Graduate’s Corey Warning. To whomever you compare him, the point is that this guy’s a good singer.
“Quiet Place” may be the best song on the album, featuring bright, eclectic riffs and Lucas’ best performance. The song’s bridge gets a bit atmospheric, aided by layered, swirling riffs, electronic drums, and haunting vocals. “Snow Day” carries much of the same vibe, making good use of keyboards and electronic drums to let the track breathe, and including some impeccable harmonies that’d make the Beatles proud.
Still, the band’s best is likely at those straightforward pop-punk songs. For as stale as the genre generally now, Stepfriends could certainly breathe some life in. “Collide Collapse” has a monstrous hook, one that’ll be lodged forever in your brain, and “Strangers, Friends, and Pictures” boasts the only chorus on the album more impressive than that one – a chorus of “Hey! Where do you go when you drift away?” that I can’t believe hadn’t been written before, being this good. However, following that song is hard to do, and it only makes “I Know You” seem even more lackluster. That’s one of the groovier tracks on the album, with horns and bouncy drums. The chorus gets a bit repetitive and annoying as it repeats the same line with more background vocals getting thrown in. In “Collide Collapse,” Johnny Lucas sings, “From that moment on, I was in love.” It’s funny, because that’s exactly how I’d describe this record.