Pure Noise must be excited with what their bands are doing these days. ” Life Lessons”, the latest release from Harrisburg’s Handguns is a pop punk bullseye. With tons of music to choose from, especially in this genre, picking a start to a new highly anticipated album is crucial. It really has to create a spark, to shape and form the album, similar to, dare I say, an anvil.
The first track off the new record is a quick shot from the hip. Fast, loud, and short. “Anvil” weighing in at 1 minute and 22 seconds picks up where the band left off. We were patiently waiting for the new release, and judging from the first track, we won’t be let down.
Reloading for the next blast of a song, “Sleep Deprived” keeps Handguns’ going. Fast poppy, and riddled with muted crunching guitars and head nodding drum beats, this song guides us smoothly along to a scream a long pop punk type of breakdown that seemed to dissipate over the years. Way to bring it back boys. With these first two tracks as evidence, Handgun’s hasn’t strayed to far from what they know. What they’ve learned. And what we love.
Next in the chamber “Highway Robbery” holds us up for another pin point accurate pop punk heavy hitter. With lyrics that will surely be shouted by fans across the US, everyone will feel at home and not like they’re wasting away. Fast, in your face, and abruptly ending to make for the perfect get away into one of the more catchy songs on the album.
Starting off like the first three ” Heart vs. Head” is just on par with how the album is going. Fast guitar and drums we’re almost expecting what will happen. But Handgun’s has a refreshing reload for a moment, breaking out the slowed down sing song chorus. Repeating this fast to slow formula, the Harrisburg five show what they have composition wise with a belted symphonic pop punk “breakdown”. With a swinging baseline to lead us into an open chorded serenade to finish up track four.
One that we can probably all relate to, as pop punk fans, is ironically titled “I Can’t Relate”. Topics such as happiness, student loans, societies views and living lives for ourselves, are all covered in this shorty but goody. Guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser and dog-pile maker. Don’t lie, you can’t wait to scream ” NO I DON’T, NO I DON’T, NO I!”
Properly living up to the album name “The Loved Ones Who Hate Us” covers exactly that. Wondering if anyone still cares and trying to balance family and friend relationships, Taylor Eby (vocals) carefully orchestrates a call and answer type chorus. With a guest appearance by Soupy of The Wonder Years, the first single off ” Life Lessons” (check out the video if you haven’t, pretty funny) somewhat shifts the gears into a more personal direction the record seems to take from here.
Bringing in the more spacey and technicality Handguns’ has to offer, “Queens” illustrates the fearlessness the band holds. Upbeat and moving, this one touches on a more physical aspect of life lessons. Getting punched in the face is never fun, but sometimes, a life lesson that needs to be had.
It’s unclear if there is an unwritten rule in the pop punk handbook, but songs about looking into the past are always the slow jams of the record. Definitely true with “Give and Take”. Not the slowest song you’ll hear by any means, this reminiscent jam is still the slower guy of the album. Catchy and fun, “Give and Take” is a great breather from what Handguns’ has shot off so far.
Touching on the tender subject of losing a loved one is “Waiting For Your Ghost”. With a fun poppy sound, it’s easy to miss the subject matter being belted out. While it may be a tough one to play live, this is without a doubt going to get kids off their feet.
The closing track shows that something was learned from all these life lessons. “New Years Resolution” covers how the world is a testing world and backing down and not putting up a fight is no option. Keeping the “in your face” styled song going strong, “New Years Resolution” is a solid ending choice for the album. Fast verses, heavy hitting choruses, climactic build ups, and vocal driven quotes of positivity. “Life Lessons” has everything wanted in a pop punk album, and is proof that Handguns’ learned this lesson and learned it fast.