These days, pop-punk is big business. It may not be scaling the dizzy heights it did back at its 2002 peak, but the success of The Story So Far, State Champs, Neck Deep, et al, shows that there is still clearly a demand for this type of music in 2017.
Judging by ‘Red, Green, Or Inbetween’ WSTR (pronounced ‘waster’!) are a bunch of lads brought up on the 2002 variety, yet heavily influenced by the more contemporary sound.
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Opening tracks ‘Featherweight’ and ‘Footprints’ sound like Neck Deep channelling Sum 41, in the best possible way. Similarly, upbeat numbers with negative lyrics-such as ‘The Last Ride’-could have come straight from an old New Found Glory record, or a new Story So Far album.
Although it’s easy to spot the band’s influences-the similarity between frontman Sam Clifford’s voice and that of his Neck Deep counterpart Ben Barlow has been a source of vigorous contention in the pop-punk scene-this album is anything but derivative. This collection of songs is simple, nostalgic joy, put to record. The pummelling, power-chord driven energy of ‘Nail The Casket’ will have the old guard instantly reaching for their skateboards, while simultaneously driving the whippersnappers of the Neck Deep fanbase into a frenzy.
When dealing with topics that would break any individual-‘Kings Cup’ chronicling the year Clifford lost to the hospital, after an alcohol-fuelled accident led to him breaking his neck-WSTR still manage to deliver with a wry smile. This is definitely a band looking forward, to make the best of the future, rather than wallow in the mistakes of the past.
At the other end of the pop-punk Richter Scale, ‘Eastbound and Down’ slows things down nicely, without being too sappy or bringing the party down.
All in all, this is pop-punk at its purest and best. It doesn’t have any airs, graces or pretension-what you see is what you get. These are simple, joyous songs that’ll chase away the blues and bring the sunshine on the rainiest of days, and as their peers and heroes will attest, this is no mean feat.
An upbeat album of this calibre can be the bedrock of a long and successful career, and with tracks this catchy, expect WSTR to be headlining their own pop-punk mega-tour in the very near future.