There’s no doubt that pop-punk has earned its place in the history of rock and roll. Is it for everyone? Maybe not, but it’s making a comeback with recent hits by big names such as Post Malone, Lil Peep, and Machine Gun Kelly. I can only imagine that it must be intimidating for new bands gravitating around this style to immediately attract the generation following the emo craze of the Warped Tour years. However, it doesn’t phase Montreal rockers Reign The Sky, and they certainly have no qualms about bringing back the sound on their latest EP From Here.
Just from the first few notes of “Maggie,” there’s no mistaking that this is a pop-punk band through and through. The lead vocalist’s singing reminds me of the belting and chanting that Billy Talent’s frontman Benjamin Kowalewicz is famous for. There were maybe just a few issues with pitch, and I’ll also add that some lyrics could have detracted from the stereotypical pop-punk vocabulary. The guitar and bass work is solid and unmistakably dripping with hints of Good Charlotte and The Offspring. The added electronic “bleeps” and subtle synths give it that modern feel, although I won’t necessarily defend it as being integral to the songs. The lead single “Maggie” and title track “From Here” stood out to me the most; probably because they very much sound like songs that one could hear playing on local alternative radio stations.
Where I feel like this EP suffers though is in the production and choice of instrumentation. Sometimes, it feels just a bit cacophonic. For example, during the choruses, it distracts the listener from the sentimental songwriting. I also wished for some “deeper”-sounding moments. Perhaps some droning, distorted guitars or lingering bass notes could have filled up the empty spaces. The drummer performed with just the right energy and knew how to accent the main melodies’ rhythms. I would also challenge Reign The Sky to add more surprises to their compositions to avoid pop-punk songs’ predictable tropes. Even the genre’s Titans had frequent stylistic changes in their releases, sometimes even during the same song. Sum 41’s thrash influences or Green Days’ nods to classic rock come to mind.
There’s no doubt that From Here will satisfy any sentimental pop-punk craving, but it’s hard to say just how memorable the middle tracks are. This is all but worrisome for young bands though. Writing and recording songs is in itself a process of self-discovery. I have faith that Reign The Sky will return with unexpected twists while of course maintaining that pop-punk, allowing them to push boundaries on their terms.
Written by Davide Spinato
*Edited by Dominic Abate