Ghosts Again
(Victory Records)

It’s an odd way to start a fairly positive review, but I honestly wonder when this pop-punk bubble is going to burst. We’re in an era when most bands are copy-pasting old New Found Glory songs and proudly claiming themselves “easycore”, without realizing that NFG songs were mostly rehashing Blink 182 tunes, and that band wasn’t exactly original. That’s not to say all newer punk bands are a waste, far from it, but how far is a sound going to continue along relying solely on trying to perfectly execute the three minute/three chord track?

Indy’s ForeverAtLast (like Heart to Heart and Four Year Strong, etc.) combine pop-punk’s melodic charm with just a dash of melodic hardcore’s energy. Ghosts Again isn’t really all that heavy, but it’s driving and aggressive in a way that most modern easycore is afraid to be. Yes, the band has a female singer, and comparisons to early Paramore and Tonight Alive are both fair and unavoidable. However, at least on a deeper level, ForeverAtLast seems to be willing to break apart from the mold. Unfortunately for the band, they don’t do it enough to break out; instead, between solid if not-quite-memorable songs meet with strides towards a unique identity showcase a band with promise.

The first half of the album is fast, furious, and highly hooky. Brittany Paris’ voice is familiar but powerful enough to be a highlight. The diet breakdowns (nothing’s ever really heavy here) hit hard enough to go over well at live shows, and the music itself is the right mix of unoffensive and driving. You’ll find yourself nodding along from time to time, though the music doesn’t fair well under close inspection.

It sounds like I’m being overly harsh on an otherwise fine record, and maybe I am. Ghosts Again is a very good record that hints at the band’s potential greatness. However, it’s too safe to really stand out from an overcrowded punk scene. The melodic hardcore elements are too toned down to make a winning punch like Heart to Heart (whose Self-Titled LP is still the pinnacle of the punk/hardcore genre), but it’s definitely better than many of the myriad pop-punk releases in 2015. It’s just that pop-punk is really showing the cracks in its armor when a perfectly competent release just isn’t doing it for you anymore. (Nicholas Senior)

Purchase Ghosts Again here.

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