Welcome back, Hot Mulligan. Since 2014 when they released the EP Fenton, Hot Mulligan hasn’t been slowing down, releasing seven different EPs, and two albums, and touring non-stop. So I am amazed they found time to turn their heads to the studio to record Why Would I Watch. The band teamed up with the talented Brett Romnes to produce Why Would I Watch, and it delivers with loud emo-guitar riffs, heavy synth rhythms, and Nathan ‘Tades’ Sanville’s raspy vocals and screaming that part of the sound that made Hot Mulligan unique to begin with.
If you’re worried that the band has strayed away from their obscure song titles, you have nothing to worry about. They made them even weirder, and if you, like myself, ever feel you need to recommend a song, you might look twice at the titles.
The album brings the emo. Sanville translates well into the lyrics. While Chris Freeman and Ryan Malicsi dive into the emo/pop-punk/math-rock setting around the sound (seriously, no goblin core?) I’ve waited since You’ll Be Fine for this. At the same time, Brandon Blakeley shows why he is the perfect drummer for the band, with how he can unleash either one hell of a machine-speed drumming and a softer display throughout the album. They are harmonized and become one with each other while still keeping their sounds. They all deliver.
Sliding into It’s A Family Movie She Hates Her Dad, we hear Chris Freeman accompanying Sanville on the vocals throughout the song, which shares a glimpse into how the negative social heritage can pass through generations with lyrics such as, “Getting high before noon / your sister stole your pills again” and during the chorus “I saw my family off their face as I was graduating/ And that’s how you pass it down.” The whole vocal switch between Freeman and Sanville gives the song a different layer. But both guitars on the song are the real show-stoppers. For heavy lyrics, the song has relatively upbeat guitar riffs in it.
Drummer Brandon Blakeley nails the soft and somber intro to This Song is Called it’s Called What’s it Called with Freeman and Malicsi. Yes, that is the title of the song. But Blakeley hits hard when needed and is given a good build-up from Sanville and the guitars. Just wait for the drop on this song. It’s insane.
Warning, get your tissues ready for these two songs Betty and Smahccked My Head Awf. Betty touches on the death of a loving pet and the heartbreak of knowing that time is running out. It only gets sadder with the acoustic guitar and whistling during the song. So, hold your pets close tonight. Smahccked My Head Awf hits differently. While it’s not about a pet, it’s still about watching someone you love slowly decline. Its vivid lyrics throughout the song catch the pain as if you were going through it with Sanville. “Oh, I’ve written all these songs all meant for you / But I’ll turn into a stranger before too soon.” There’s no go around; the guitar riffs and drumming, without a doubt, help set the mood and take a step back to let Sanville express his vulnerability during 3:09 minutes. Both are beautifully written songs on their own.
“Patron saint of all dysmorphic / peeling off my skin to torch it” are two lines in the closing song John “The Rock” Cena, Cann You Smell What The Undertaker. That hits hard on religion and feeling like you don’t belong in your body. Simple guitar riffs to lift Sanville’s lyrics start the song before Freeman comes in at the end of the first verse, which kicks off the heavy skate/pop-punk beats on the drums. Ending an album on such a severe and relatable note could be a miss. But Hot Mulligan aren’t amateurs here. They know what their listeners like and how to connect with them precisely at the right time.
But for once, Hot Mulligan takes a step away from sounding like The Wonder Years and creating an identity and a more powerful narrative. Instead, Hot Mulligan is a band that will jump head-first into any heavy topic and shares their experience with their listeners. In addition, Sanville might be maturing a lot in his songwriting skills, which is a big takeaway from Why Would I Watch. I’ll go on paper and say, come the month where we have to start adding albums to our Album of The Year list, I won’t be surprised if a lot of music lovers have it in their top five albums. The album is strong, meaningful, consistent, and at its best. Each song is like fine wine. They get even better the more you listen to them. But you still sit in your feelings and feel less alone. It’s always nice to have something to mirror in, even if it’s song lyrics you’ll use as Instagram captions for the next many months.
You can stream the album here.
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