Best Years – Drop Out review

BESTYEARSCOVERBest Years’ Drop Out EP harvests a bold sound, echoing its members’ bold decision to drop all other ‘reality’ in their lives to focus on the band, hence the inspiration behind the name. The EP, featuring three new songs including leading single Overrated, is the sophomore release from the Mancunian group following on from 2014 debut offering Footwork.

Before I even begin reviewing individual songs, the whole sound of Drop Out undoubtedly has a whiff of nostalgia of early material from pop punk bands resting in the mid-2000s such as You Me at Six and All Time Low. Such a throwback sensation won’t fit everyone’s taste, but as an avid listener of this genre of music, I am delighted whenever I hear new music bringing back a taste of pop punk’s glory years.

A sensible place to begin is indeed at Overrated, which is everything a listener of pop punk would expect. A plunging guitar riff? Tick, courtesy of guitarists Ed Lawson and James Hunt and bassist Josh Holland. Strong co-ordinated drumming providing secure scaffolding for vocals and instruments? Tick, from the skilled hands of Josh Berzins. Motivational lyrics rallying people on which ultimately have a strong message? Tick, as vocalist Joel Plews exclaims that “you don’t realise your life’s the same / Week in and week out” and hints that better is to come. Overrated will become the song crowds scream out at Best Years’ gigs, with an insanely catchy chorus. Yes, the song may be very safe and not step out of the dimension of the pop punk box, but it certainly has the power to become a feel-good, almost protesting anthem of a life that ultimately could be better.

Rather unsurprisingly, the remaining two tracks on the EP continue to channel the choppy guitar riffs and fast pace set of Overrated – Built at Last is set in stone as the group’s strong-headed break-up anthem, comforting those who’ve experiences a broken relationship that despite their partner moving on, the outcome is the best part and they will be completely fine eventually. Back Then being played live is almost certain to result in some serious moshing somewhere in the audience, and just like in all good pop punk songs, there is also a part where the crowd can easily join in, as Joel leads a battle-cry of “woah” which the crowd can gleefully join in at the top of their voices.

There is a danger that if Best Years do carry on future releases in the same vein, they may cruelly be drowned out in a field containing more established pop punk groups with similar sounds. However, for now the band has produced a record that works well, with three catchy songs that are almost certain to become anthems for the Manchester group.

You can listen to Overrated below.

Lacey: Outlaws

1150198_621261974573853_700273049_nAlternative pop/rock seems to be everywhere at the minute, piercing its way into mainstream radio station playlists and filling up the local music scene not just in Nottingham, but all over the country, so it’s a hard genre to break into. Contrary to popular belief, there’s a little more needed to creating a Lower Than Atlantis-style masterpiece than just throwing together a pair of guitarists, a bassist, a drummer and choosing who can hold a tune best – you need originality and a real love for the music you’re creating. As listeners, we can tell if a band’s loving what they’re doing or not, from their gigs, social networking and promotion, but most of all from their tracks.

This band needs no introduction, kick starting the EP with passionate vocals which could be compared to a mix of You Me At Six and Mallory Knox. If I didn’t know they had relatively just set off on the road to fame, I could’ve been fooled by their skilled song writing and layered vocals formed in a hauntingly beautiful manner on the opening track, Hometown. That sort of technique generally takes years of attempts to master, but in this EP, it’s perfect; the continued repetition of the one line “who said that I’d go quietly?” is understated and subtly brilliant. What a way to start!

The second track, Contender, feels like it has the potential to be a timeless emotion fuelled ballad, up there with the likes of Iris by The Goo Goo Dolls, although some of the backing – especially the drumming – feels like it belongs in a Bastille track. Either way, it’s a big change from the first track, and shows on the band’s capabilities fantastically. Definitely one to get the crowd waving their arms in time to at a live show.

The pace picks up again with Burning Out, a song that very much reminded me of Taking Hayley’s Circles. This song is an absolute corker, cleverly fitted together verses and a chorus that makes you want to sing at the top of your lungs and feel a part of something. On many levels, that’s what music’s all about – feeling a part of something and a connection with not only the band, but with the people you’re sharing the music with. This song is going to be an absolute hit, with the perfect criteria for a single and an all time favourite.

It feels like in the last track there’s a lot more focus on the guitar and drum backing, and the bridges show this off. It’s so easy to cop out and just focus on incredible lyrics but Lacey clearly put the effort into every aspect. This past year there’s been a lot of attention on Nottingham’s music due to Jake Bugg, and although they’re not in the same genre, I think Lacey have the potential to get just as far as him, if not further!

Rating – 5/5
Pre-order the EP (out Friday 13th September) – http://laceyofficialuk.bigcartel.com/product/outlaws-cd
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