Is it just me or has the pop-punk genre not evolved since the mid-2000s? Seriously, play anything new alongside The All-American Rejects or Fall Out Boy from ten years ago, and it will be hard to tell the difference. It seems that one’s enjoyment of this music depends on if you like hearing the same thing over and over. Don’t get me wrong, there have been exceptions to the rule. For example, The Wonder Years (the band, not the 80s sitcom) are fantastic at playing with a potentially tired formula. I’m not saying all this as a disgruntled prick. I grew up on this stuff, and I love it. I just wish, for the love of God, that someone would try something new, so I wouldn’t have to turn to an old Blink-182 record for satisfaction. So the questions remains, is In Light’s new album Running with Scissors the quiet revolution I have been hoping for? Sadly no. It is, however, at least worthy of including on your average 2000s pop-punk playlist.
Let’s start with what’s good about this EP. These guys have clearly done their homework. These are hook driven songs that are pretty darn catchy. I guarantee if you played this at a party directly after Panic at The Disco, no one would really bat an eyelash, but there lies the problem. The whole thing is unbelievably safe! Pop-punk is hardly known for its diversity, but the bands that have stuck it out all have had something unique that made them memorable anyway. Blink had their unabashed, juvenile behavior. Yellowcard even had that rad violin player! In Lights are a tight band, no doubt, but if they want to be remembered they are going to have to find some kind of hook, or risk the potential of getting lost in a sea of pop-punk wannabes.
This isn’t to say that the whole thing is devoid of any enjoyment. Fans of this kind of music will find things to like. I, for one, really dug the song “Running with Scissors.” The title alone is a pretty great tagline for adolescence. Who didn’t feel, as a teenager, that they were constantly about to trip headfirst into a large pointy object? The song beautifully captures that melodramatic edge we were all on, or are potentially still on. I also couldn’t help but digging the neat synth lines that gave the song a slightly more modern feel. The production, courtesy of vocalist Tanner MayDay, guitarist Ilya Turov, and Josh Buckner should definitely be applauded, and it is the subtle touches that make the whole thing stand out a little bit more. I just wish that there was more of it. The almost metal-like breakdown at the end of “Running with Scissors” was an awesome surprise on an EP that seemed to be slightly lacking in that department.
As an EP, Running with Scissors is a solid introduction to this band, and in that way, what more could you really ask for? The talent is undeniably there, and it is easy to see that these guys are capable of professional musicianship. The next thing that they should aim for is memorability. I am curious to see what they will do with a full-length debut. Hopefully we will see their personalities shine through and they will be more willing to take big chances. I would personally like to add another classic pop-punk record to my collection, right next to Enema of the State and Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing. Here’s hoping that these guys are the ones to make that a possibility.
Written by Shawn Thicke
*edited by Kate Erickson