Best 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.