I’ll be brutally honest; as I write this review, I’m listening to something else. It’s not that the three-song, 12-minute, independently released EP Branches from Scottish trio MAUVE. isn’t excellent – it is! But if you’ve been reading my reviews, you know that I’ve grown tired of hearing endless variations on the pop-punk subgenre.
With that in mind, 7/10 is an absolute top score from yours truly for an album in this subgenre. The guys brought solid musicianship and professional-sounding production to this project. Drummer Ben Smith really ties the sound together with his crisp, tight, no-nonsense playing, allowing lead singer/guitarist Steve Campbell and bassist/vocalist Leuan Smith to lay down their simple, effective songs. Among other things, this sound is a familiar trip down memory lane, with high-pitched, nasal vocals laid overtop of eighth-note-rich riffs, all in an emotional, energetic style. There’s lots to love!
However, this album’s strengths are also its weaknesses: we’ve all heard Green Day, Simple Plan and Bullet For My Valentine. Small variations such as Steve Campbell’s audible Scottish accent make things slightly more interesting, but the bottom line is, there’s just not much on the table in terms of originality.
Don’t let that take away from the undeniable quality of this EP, though; all three songs are catchy and undeniably good. The lead single “Branches” and its music video are a great example of what MAUVE. can do. “Branches” has been featured on playlists and favourably reviewed since it launched. The real hidden gem, though, is “Afterthought,” the catchiest and most memorable song on this EP. Finally, MAUVE. closes things out with “Unravel,” a fantastic sounding acoustic ballad. Again, there’s lots to love in a brief but well-executed package.
Fans of pop-punk in general will undoubtedly love this record… I’m gonna show this to my wife and she may not even understand what I don’t like… But if, like me, you seek fiercely original, exploratory sounds, don’t bother.
Written by Henri Brillon
*Edited by Chris Aitkens