ARTIST: WOES

TITLE: AWFUL TRUTH

LABEL: UNFD

RATING: 4/10

WORDS: JACK MOBLEY

The world of UK pop-punk has become overly saturated in recent memory with the genre becoming increasingly diluted, losing the bite and edge that the likes of The Story So Far, The Wonder Years and Neck Deep pioneered. Scottish four-piece, Woes have been touring their previous EP’s, ‘Self Help’ and ‘Woes’, relentlessly, spreading their brand of straight forward and melodic pop-punk. However, the band have tried to mix up their sound with their debut album ‘Awful Truth’.

Amping up the electronic beats and opting for synth bass tones to try and step out of the box to make a bold stamp. This is met with limited success; forgettable and repetitive choruses fail to stand out, and the synth heavy tracks do little in the way of creativity. All coddled in a squeaky clean production quality which doesn’t help the tone of the record. With all that being said, the band couples this new artistic angle with what they have already produced in terms of songwriting. The now trademark pop-punk flow of the vocal paired with the cliched themes in the lyrics (girls, relationships, loneliness) while the rest of ensemble go through the motions. The comparison with Don Broco’s 2015 release, ‘Superlove’ are unparalleled with sections which sound like B-sides from the album that are spliced in with Woes’ previous material.

“the band have tried to mix up their sound with their debut album ‘Awful Truth’.”

The record opens with ‘Boy’ which really sets the tone for the rest of the album; electronic elements that opens the tune and synth bass dominates rather than a more organic tone. A playful guitar line opens the first fully fledged track, ‘Fake Friends’ and with that a more traditional pop-punk sound with a catchy chorus, especially the line ‘and that’s fine’. However the latter half of the track introduces a hip-hop inspired beat with triplet high-hats that completely brings the momentum of the song to a halt.

‘Fancy’ and especially ‘Money Shoe’ inspire more comparisons to Don Broco once more but with less swagger and not as good musicianship. Some of the vocal hooks are almost unashamedly ripped before reverting back to the pop-punk flow that lead singer, DJ is more comfortable with. The middle of the album is the weakest point with the run of mill pop-punk songs, ‘Suburbs’ and ‘Awful Truth’ that do little to stand out and would pass you by during a live set. More sombre and heartfelt track, ‘Mess’ does enough with the opening lines to be memorable.

“Woes have achieved that shift in sound but maintained a level of familiarity that existing fans can potentially support them as well as appealing to newer audiences in the process.”

The tail of the record really showcases the experimental side that Woes have delved into. ‘Cross’ is a leaf taken out of Lil Peep’s book with the emo-trap soundscape, which has always lent itself to the lingering pop-punk vocal and is interesting to hear a band trying their hand it. ‘Gone Forever’ features the heaviest riff on the record that melds a Lower Than Atlantis heaviness with a poppy melody that feels heavy for heaviness sake rather than to serve the idea of the song.

Trying to step out of your comfort zone as a band or change your sound on your debut album is an extremely bold move. Woes have achieved that shift in sound but maintained a level of familiarity that existing fans can potentially support them as well as appealing to newer audiences in the process. In doing so, however, they have watered down their sound, ridding it of any meaningful angst or aggression that is synonymous with some of the biggest bands of the genre. Woes have tried to incorporate pop beats and hip-hip flows that don’t flow seamlessly with their pop-punk roots. Just because you like peanut butter and you like pizza doesn’t mean you should mix the two.

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