Autumn is the best time of year for listening to pop-punk. Sure; it’s the soundtrack to sun-drenched skate parks, beach parties and festival parking lots, but-more than many genres-it often boasts lyrics of regret, nostalgia and introspection. All of which are emotions evoked by the shortening days, and cooler temperatures of the season.
It’s against this impending backdrop that Sleep On It release sophomore record ‘Pride and Disaster’. While the scene is still awash with also-rans from the peak pop-punk period, Sleep on It’s 2017 debut ‘Overexposed’ set them apart from the rest of the pop-punk pack, with deep, soulful singing, rather than the stereotypical nasally whining, and earnest, but meaningful lyrics, which are often absent from the genre.
On ‘Pride and Disaster’ Sleep on It stick to this formula, somewhat. It’s nothing overly ground-breaking, but if you do something well, there is little need to deviate. Sometimes staying in your lane can lead to greater things than the road less travelled.
If anything, the lyrics are more weary and world-worn than on the previous record; themes such as letting down family, the comradery of being stuck in a small town and the constant worry of ‘falling behind’ are the signs of a band growing in understanding, if not necessarily scope. This is far from a bad thing-at its best, pop-punk is personal, relatable and akin to a self-help manual. It’s something that Sleep on it has nailed on this record.
This short sliver of an album-it barely clocks in at the 30 minute mark-is laden with pop-punk banger, after pop-punk banger. Lead single ‘Under the Moment’ is an absolute rush of saccharine joy, and already has the feel of a mainstay of the band’s live set list. Expect this to lead to excessive pogoing in venues worldwide.
Similarly, ‘After Tonight’ is a good old-fashioned boy-loses-girl pop-punk banger. It’s far from clichéd-the lyrics are less rosy than the upbeat music would suggest. This is just excellent, well written alternative music.
There are some-very minor-gripes on this album. Opening track-‘Racing Toward a Red Light’-is slightly over-produced, and synthy flourishes are added where they are neither needed, nor add anything to the song. Fortunately, the production tweaks are reigned in for the rest of the album, preventing them from becoming an unwelcome distraction. Similarly, some tracks, such as ‘The Cycle of Always Leaving’ and ‘Hold Your Breath’ get lost in the mix somewhat. However, this is due to the strength of the rest of the tracks, more than anything.
Ultimately, this is a very strong pop-punk record, that does exactly what you’d expect it to do, and does it very well. This could be Sleep on It’s chance to make the jump to the big leagues. If that doesn’t happen, however, this will go a long way to winning over fans of fellow Midwesterners Real Friends and Knuckle Puck. Regardless of anything else, this is album is very much the sound of a young band living up to their promise. Long may their ascent continue!