For those of you who have recently become dismayed over the direction Paramore‘s sound appears to be heading in, fret not. Summerteeth’s debut record Hope This Helps does a decent job of imitating the band’s pop-punk glory days, particularly the kinds of songs found on their debut All We Know Is Falling. Unfortunately lead vocalist Johnny McMahon’s vocals fall short of the incredibly high bar set by Hayley Williams. However, his voice does bear a resemblance to another pop-punk legend, Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus.
Lyrically, Hope This Helps is full of songs whose focus on rhyming adds an adorable and wholesome twist to age-old pop-punk romantic themes. However their preoccupation with romantic love and the loss of it isn’t infused with anything that can’t be found on tons of records just like this one. There’s also little sonic variety on this record, but with only six tracks it’s hard for them to wear out their welcome…until you’re giving it multiple listens. Given the genre’s history of familiarity, fans of pop-punk are sure to be satisfied. However, Summerteeth could have done more to make the songs contrast each other in order to make this record more exciting. When writing about a record as straightforward as this one, it’s tempting to say, “This is a pop-punk record” and leave it at that. Unfortunately, dear reader, I have a word count to hit, so let’s back up a bit.
At the start of this piece, I compared this record to early Paramore. This comparison is based on things like the band’s light guitars that contrast with the pounding, if somewhat restrained, rhythms. However, those early Paramore records have something this one does not: variety. Summerteeth could have spiced some of these songs up with some rough-around-the-edges hardcore influences, or even gone further in the other direction and included some songs that were closer to pop ballads. Their ultimate middle-of-the-road approach makes the record relatively forgettable.
That being said, this is a solid debut from a band who understands the basics of the genre they’ve adopted, and I have hope that in the future they can use these baseline skills to better explore what makes them more unique as musicians and individuals. Good luck Summerteeth, we’ll be watching.
Written by Brian Charles Clarke
*edited by Kate Erickson