There are different things about an album by an lesser-known artist that would lead a person to give it a try. In this case, it was the title Life in Static (released on August 15). I was intrigued by the concept of a life in static. The definition of the word is: 1) that of an unpleasant noise heard on the radio, on television, or on the phone, 2) continuous and annoying complaints, or 3) something that does not move or change. My beliefs are pretty much the exact opposite of the second and third definition of static. That is to say, I do not believe in complaining, but rather in contentment and constructive reflection on how to better the world. I believe the world is in constant movement towards an amazing future.
It might seem that this album is somewhat static, in that it is imbibed in a genre popular at the turn of the century. But there does seem to be a revival of pop punk music that, although very familiar, is also quite different from the emo soundtrack of high schoolers in the 2000s. There is also a certain homogeneity in the 13 songs of this album. But there is also a movement to break free from the “static” of day to day life which compels us into passivity instead of brushing off the bad and continuing to work for the good. And this is what I like about this album.
Band members Aaron Condrat (lead vocals, guitar), Justin Trombetti (drums, vocals), Tyler Grundstrom (bass), and Nick Sasich (guitar) are rooted in the belief that individuals can overcome day to day struggles and turmoil. They also state that they want their listeners to take away a simple message from their work: that we can always rise above and conquer. They believe that we can hear through the static in the background that we are invincible.
From its very first notes, Larusso welcomes us into countless upbeat anthem-worthy pop punk songs. The guitar and drum driver “Chase the Sun” also features emotion laden lead vocals with very familiar backup vocals. The following “The Voice” is the album’s first single. It starts simply enough, with the lead vocals supported by a guitar harmonizing, that leads into a drum and guitar driven, up-tempo song featuring a sticky chorus. While “Drifter” begins differently, the body of the song is quite reminiscent of the first two songs. All three take the listener straight back to the turn of the century, using the same formula the pop punk songs that hit the airways then were based on.
The slower “Daniel With an L” leans towards a heavier sound, and, despite still being upbeat, also features a darker, melancholic feel. The very short “Living Proof” slows the tempo down even more, and its sound is a departure from the previous tracks on the album. It is a melancholic song that still manages to convey hope, bringing to mind images of a fighter who has just lost a fight getting up for the next round with the same determination as before.
The transition into “The Recovery” was very sudden and, because the latter is a return to the upbeat, guitar-driven sound from the first songs in the album, it is quite a jarring experience. “Places” starts, aptly enough, with background noise typical to public places such as a restaurant, a café, a train station—you name it. This song best epitomises the teenage angst of the genre. The following track, “Set Phasers to Fun,” marks another departure from the rest of the album, more so than “Living Proof.” The song is very simple, an acoustic guitar-driven song with backup vocals featuring no drumming that feels like it could become a cheerful campfire favourite. The word “sweet” comes to mind quite often while listening to it.
“Collision Course” marks a brief return of the more typical drum and guitar of the genre, as “Take Me Away” is a piano-driven ballad featuring the contribution of a female vocalist, whose delicate contribution adds a unique flavour to the song that is not found anywhere else on this album. The penultimate “Dear Pandora” comes off as a rock-pop punk mix. Larusso kept yet another slower tempo, melancholic, acoustic guitar-driven song as the closing track.
For listeners yearning for the days where pop punk ruled the radio waves, this album will be a new reminder that the genre, although perhaps less mainstream today, still exists. Larusso has written thoughtful lyrics in their attempt to share a positive message with their audience. There is a certain charm in the combination of pop punk sounds with thoughtful lyrics that will appeal to many. Combined with good production, they have come up with a good album of well-known formulas and sounds.
More information about the band is available on their official website.
First published here on Blogcritics.