Wales is growing in prominence in the pop punk world – Junior are the latest band of many to emerge from the country. The Cardiff based trio consist of members with more than ordinary careers – a professional wrestler, a children’s book author and a head of a non-profit organisation – who bonded over their common love of music. Just like their professions, the members have promised that their sophomore release JuniorLand is far from the usual themes of pop punk music, with the lads not just absorbed by ‘girls and skateboards’.
Whilst openings for other pop punk records I have recently reviewed begin with an in your face introduction, Junior ensure they run things differently from the get go – the first thirty seconds of A House That’s Not Quite A Home instead opts for a stirring quote courtesy of what sounds like an old sample – ‘discouraged, disgruntled, heck no, they’re glad to be here, remember!’. Another difference from the typical opening track is the mellow instrumental that greeted me after the sample – more chilled sounds are reminiscent of circa 2000 Blink 182 and New Found Glory, and I was glad that Junior have been brave enough to venture outside the box. Although in the first half of the song I felt that the lyrics lacked depth, A House That’s Not Quite A Home improves substantially towards the end with powerful rousing repeats of the chorus. Despite the strident, catchy guitar instrumental for second track Maria, dreary lyrics ultimately let the song down. Persuading protagonist Maria to come outside and play with them feels a bit too bland for my personal likening.
That Pretty Dress is a very pretty song and significantly better – there is a step up in the sophistication of the lyricism, complete with an unpredictable guitar rhythm changing from slow to choppy chords, with time for a sweet solo. It is an earnest track that holds its head up on JuniorLand, and captured my attention the whole way through not sticking to expected sounds from a pop punk track. The acoustic feel of Lakeside is enchanting, and it is again exciting to witness Junior try out another new sound, which makes a pleasant easy-listening experience, with passionate meaning behind it.
What remains of JuniorLand is just as spirited as previous songs – barely lasting long enough for you to catch your breath, If I Had the Time I’d Tell You I’m not Sorry is exhilarating through enthralling drum beats provided by Si Martin, and continues with the clever mix of two main vocalists in Matt Attard and Mark Andrews, with their diverse vocals bouncing of each other well. Leading single Anywhere but Here is another gem and was perfect to release as its summery vibe ensures it is memorable. Winding proceedings up, violin invigorated Epilogue (We Hope You Enjoyed Your Stay) concludes with another inspiration and powerful quote.
Junior, I am delighted to say I mostly very much enjoyed my stay listening to your mini album.
JuniorLand will be released on the 16th October on Ambition Records.
You can listen to Anywhere But Here below.