Pop punk music has dramatically risen in popularity in the UK – the highlight being All Time Low’s well deserved Number 1 album earlier in the year with Future Hearts – but in Germany it is still a section of alternative music that makes a quieter impact on people compared to the long-time established hardcore scene. Alas, change may be on the horizon; Earl Grey have been giving hardcore music a 21st Century kick in the backside, by combining both this and pop punk sounds together. The crossover quintet have had a busy year so far – in the spring the group released debut EP Ready to Leave, produced sophomore EP Passing Time, with the next step now being a September/October tour around their home country and the UK.
Before I pressed play on Passing Time, I was curious and very uncertain as to whether the set up of pop punk and hardcore would work, having never encountered music of the sort previously. After finishing listening to first track named after the EP’s title, I was still very uncertain. An intense track from the get go, its loud searing guitar riffs are pretty much present from beginning to end, and instrumental wise it is clear Earl Grey are influenced by pop punk flavours reminiscent of As It Is and Set It Off. Even after the opening chords I knew I would be gripped tightly on a glorious punk roller-coaster from beginning to end.
So far, so good – however where Passing Time is severely lacking is the mismatch of heavy bass and drums with vocals. The band say that their second EP increases the amount of energy and passion they have put into their songs, and indeed I could sense the heartfelt devotion vocalist Malte ‘Pedro’ Unnasch puts into every syllable he screams. Regardless of this, I struggled to make out a significant proportion of lyrics in the track, and personally for me that is one of the most crucial parts of connecting to a song. My critique is precisely the same for following track Headstrong; I felt it was more or less an exact replica of Passing Time, and the song is far too short at 1:23 minutes to really feel like it was heading somewhere enthralling.
Backstabber convinced me that perhaps hardcore and pop punk are not too different to successfully gel ultimately – the feeling of being betrayed and stabbed in the back makes most people want to scream out in horror, and this sensation is indeed both replicated in Unnasch’s vocals and described well in its lyrics. Another track which runs under two and a half minutes, I was disappointed when it ended abruptly and should have run much longer than the two tracks on the first half of Passing Tine. Final track Haven is a strong conclusion, and rounds off the end of the EP delightfully.
Are Earl Grey the spark that will change the alternative scene in Germany and start the rise of the pop punk scene? Passing Time certainly is near brilliance instrumental wise, but evidently the clarity of vocals lets it down at times, especially in the first two tracks – alas it bounces back just in time with the rest of its material. The band certainly are unique in that their releases including Passing Time will cater to those in the hardcore and pop punk scenes, in both Germany and more fans in other countries, intrigued in a new collaboration of sounds that almost fits hand in hand together to a ‘tea’.
Passing Time EP will be released on the 9th October via KROD Records.
You can watch the music video for Passing Time below.