As they develop their writing, it’s great to hear Muncie Girls move pop-punk into somewhere interesting. With a much more modern and timely sensibilities (and even some digs about Jeremy Clarkson’s fall into hate) they make a personal but accessible record on many levels. Though their music can sink into pop territory a little too deeply, their ability to bring a personal touch carries most of the record into something you’ll come back to.
While “Jeremy” sets the album off with a strange 90’s heavy rock tone, Lande Hekt’s vocals offer a nice sonic balance while her lyrics bite just as hard as the guitars. In its simplicity and more eccentric fills, this opener also hits something accessible without leaning too far into predictable pop. “Picture Of Health” does however hit more of those pop-punk tones, making for something wildly fun but a little harder to stand out. As exciting as the choruses can be, it’s hard to not feel a little bit of déjà-vu on repeat listens. There’s a dreamy quality however to “High” that is shown so much more minutely on the rest of the record. In their more lively punk tones here, it’s actually Hekt’s lyrics that keep the song immediate and compelling.
However the emotion behind both the lyrics and their delivery on something like “Clinic” make all the difference. Along with a much muddier bass tone to make the sunny guitars feel more full, the song plays around a lot more to give their music a standout feeling. All the rolling drums and quirky melodies of “Falling Down” make the build of energy feel tense and necessary, and give a lot more room for its opening flourishes to breathe. Muncie Girls use a lot more dramatic chords here as well to really make you feel the full weight of their frustrations on their choruses and yes it really does “Leave you wanting more.” As cheeky as the pop tones of “Isn’t Life Funny” are, there’s something infectious to them with the pace the band takes them with. Just as it seems like it runs out of steam, each chorus just cranks these glossy tones up to 11 for a rush of glistening guitars.
Muncie Girls take a much more bright approach on “Bubble Bath” while shedding much of their fuzzy distortion in favour of something more colourful. This change offers a more emotionally deep listen that even has their bubble sound effects feeling intriguing. “Fig Tree” energizes up this more chipper feeling, while Hekt explores a sort of conflicted set of emotions in one of the most explosive tracks of the record. Though it’s borderline hitting you over the head with its commentary, “Locked Up” is by far one of the angriest and most righteous songs Muncie Girls lets out here. Fast and to the point, it stands to be a great live track while giving listeners just enough hooks to enjoy it for a spell.
The off-kilter rhythms of “In Between Bands” recall Paramore’s rawest writing, while really driving their choruses with a dense sound behind them. It’s a catchy pop track to be sure, but one that does all it can to set itself apart from the pack. Despite the truly tender and honest sadness that inspires “Laugh Again” it lacks that same sense of inspiration musically to make the track pop.
Pianos come out with a delightful swing on “Hangovers” as Hekt’s own accent also provides a fun shade to the song’s sonic palette. This opens up into one of the album’s most honest and narrative-driven moments, and a song that really shifts expectations to make you pay attention to that story. “Family Of Four” is even more personal, while the band takes all their unusual playing quirks and apply them to their grimy pop with roaring resuls.
Words by Owen Maxwell