Overthinking Everything I Know. I can relate, mate. It’s a title you’d expect from any melodramatic melodic hardcore band. Loose End come from the land down under, from the booming pop-punk scene of Melbourne. Their sophomore record was self-released on November 30th, 2018.
I have quite the soft spot when it comes to pop-punk, but I can also be very picky with the style of the vocals. Frontman Ben Smalley sings clean for the most part, with the slightest hint of grit at the back of his throat. Smalley will occasionally unleash that grit in the form of a full-on shout on songs like “Hiding in Someone Else” and “Identity.” The aggression of the vocals is complimented by harder guitar riffs that pump up the adrenaline. Although those two tracks only represent one third of the EP, they’re my personal favourites.
Calmer songs like closing track “Jordan Street” are a lot more emotional, as the lyrics deal with self-reflection and self-doubt. There’s less strain on Smalley’s voice and there are ‘whoas’ layered in the background. Guitarists Ben Schmidt and Mitch Parry bring down the mood by strumming lightly, allowing bassist Jack Smith to come through, often drowned out by the dual guitars.
That being said, the production is well done, thanks to Chris Vernon of the similar-sounding Belle Haven. Each hit of the drum is crisp and clear. It doesn’t rely too much on reverb or pitch correction on the vocals. Everything works in harmony.
The one disappointment about the vocals is that they sound Americanized. The Australian accent is virtually nonexistent. Having developed a fondness for the Melbourne punk sound, I find a strong accent makes a band unique. However, Loose End sounds like any other pop-punk band from Middle of Nowhere, USA. They’re not re-inventing the wheel of the genre. Rather, they blend in nicely with their pop-punk familiars, and any fan of bands like Neck Deep and The Story So Far will most likely be hooked within the first ten seconds of “Cracks in the Curtains.” Loose End are still young, though. Given time, their sound is likely to mature into its own beast.
Written by Chris Aitkens
*edited by Kate Erickson