Here it is. The best pop-punk album of the summer.
Relative newcomers to the scene and hailing from the London suburb of St. Albans is Trash Boat. They started out in 2014 but have quickly worked to elevate themselves to the same level as their peers on the island like Neck Deep and Gnarwolves.
Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through is their debut full-length and even after being more seasoned on their third release, they still came out swinging!
Speaking of subtle references to songs by The Wonder Years, frontman Dan “Soupy” Campbell is featured on the opening track. In addition to the iconic sound of his voice, he makes an excellent debut in the production booth and effectively captures the cathartic release of the band’s pent-up emotions.
Trash Boat has carved themselves a unique niche in an over-saturated scene by incorporating hardcore elements to their sound infused with the tried and true pop-punk subjects of loss, love, and locality.
Singer and lyricist Tobi Duncan described the band’s stylistic influences in an interview with Upset Magazine a few weeks ago foreshadowing the record’s release. “I’ve always been the guy who listens to hardcore, the rest of the band have always been into pop punk, punk and stuff like that – which I listen to a lot of as well, don’t get me wrong – but I always push for more of an edge.”
It is an edge apparent.
Duncan’s vocals have that classic pop-punk feel with a nasally, British touch. His soaring voice is reminiscent of Less Than Jake and State Champs, but angrier. His “screams” aren’t the kind one would associate with metalcore or post-hardcore but sound more like harsh yells. It’s as aggressive as one can scream without damaging the vocal chords (à la Oli Sykes).
Like most things, the best place to get your feet wet with Trash Boat’s sound is on the first track, “Strangers.” Catchy guitars, well-written lyrics, and the guest appearance by Soupy set the tone for the rest of the album. The next track, “How Selfish I Seem” gets into the more aggressive side of the band and is one of my favorite songs on the record as Duncan’s anger is vibrantly felt. The rest of the album keeps chugging along with rare downtempo songs like “Brave Face” and “Things We Leave Behind” tossed in to help balance the pace.
But the majority of the album is fast-paced and aggressive like any good pop-punk album should be.
“Eleven” was revived from their previous EP and features a stereotypical guttural “blegh” that surprisingly doesn’t sound tired or unnaturally forced. Another personal favorite is “Pangea.” I was taken aback by the oncoming breakdown the first time I listened to it and almost started two-stepping in my suburban childhood bedroom.
There’s not much more pop-punk than that.
Suss it below and bask in post-Brexit UK angst as the summer rolls along!