After last week’s 5SOS review, we have even more pop punk for you, although this week’s strays a fair bit more toward the punk side of the spectrum. Local four piece Layover have recently released their debut EP ‘What Little We Have Left’, and have been picking up some local shows with bands like Junior, amongst others.
Listening to the EP, the first word that comes to mind is modesty. The music, artwork, even lyrics are very humble-sounding; a refreshing change from the gamut of pop punk outfits opening their albums by declaring they will be partying and such.
That isn’t to say the EP doesn’t have bite – it has it in spades. Opener ‘This Year’ clocks in at just 1:05, but sets a blistering pace. With soaring guitars leading into a manic package of musical flourishing, the song actually manages to pick up speed halfway through. This is in no small part helped by the vocalist’s mile-a-minute singing leading to an abrupt yet effective stop. Second song (and title track) ‘Stage Fright’ is also cut at a relatively quick pace, but follows a much more conventional formula. Featuring a chorus that throws back to early 2000s pop-punk, it is a solid if not unspectacular track.
It’s at this point that comparisons to early-You Me at Six start to seep in. This will be a positive for some and a negative for others, but it works quite nicely for the band. The singer’s voice does sound eerily similar to Josh Franceschi’s during the very early YMAS days – especially when he strains his voice to add some aggression. EP highlight ‘Doormat’ particularly reminds of these comparisons – tight songwriting, catchiest chorus on the album and a really strong bridge with the best lyrics on the album and the obligatory crowd vocals.
Of course, with a first release there are going to be some weaknesses. The band wear their fundamentally pop-punk hearts on their sleeves (they even managed to work a wrestling reference into pretty good ballad-y track ‘Lessons I wish I’d Never Had to Learn’) but don’t do much to differentiate their sound from the status quo – a necessity in today’s extremely oversaturated scene. Obviously this is their first release so innovation isn’t something they desperately needed but will be something for them to definitely incorporate in the future.
Despite this, Layover have produced a really solid first offering. Whilst the middle can start to sound a bit samey, they have written some decent pop-punk. There’s a very subtle layer of originality there too – it may seem like the band are revelling in an overused sound, but there are some really good songs here. All the musicians are competent and each have a chance to show a little flash of what they could do on a full length.
You can buy Layover’s debut EP on Bandcamp.