You’ve read the title, you’ve read the score, and you’re obviously anticipating some kind of an absolute rage in reading this. This is the part of the job I take no enjoyment in, but nonetheless, honesty is meant to beget progress. Robo Pumpkin is a one-man emo band out of Southwest Harbour, ME and what you’re reading is my suffrage through their latest EP Irresponsible Ghost. Even as I write this, I know the remainder of this review will feel like beating on a deaf kid with a tambourine which, being a person of impared hearing from birth, is not actually funny at all.
The entirety of Robo Pumpkin is apparently bass, drums, and “singing,” all seemingly self recorded from a bedroom under the banner of midwest emo, and yes, I know, there’s no guitar and that is weird but stick with me here. Finished product notwithstanding, this cat essentially goes the route of intricate morosity most akin to that of bands like The Front Bottoms, Citizen, and even a little bit of my beloved Alkaline Trio can be caught at times if you try to listen hard enough. This act truly and honestly wants to be the emo of their perception, which admittedly feels upsettingly young and almost trollish, but I’ll preface my critiques with the one redeeming quality in that there are absolutely some courageous attempts in this effort. The sheer fact that these songs are composed solely on a bass guitar and drums while self recorded and released is ballsy. That being said, this is basically a statue of Michael Angelo’s David made entirely out of fecal matter from the creature of your choosing because shit is truly shit.
I want to make something abundantly clear. Taking responsibility for vocals in an emo band, a punk band, a pop punk band, or any kind of fucking band requires you to know how to perform said vocals. Narrowing my point down, being a singer in an emo band does not excuse you from needing to know how to sing. You can be angsty, you can be satirical, you can be emotional in any fashion you so please, but singing means hitting a note properly and that did not occur once in the entirety of the ten minutes and twelve seconds that I had to endure on repeat while trying to put these words to paper. Moving through to the absolute lack of recording quality, the fact that these tunes are recorded in such a “stripped down” fashion truly makes it a suffering worthy of a fucking Hellraiser flick.
I’m not even going to begin on the lyrical content, not only as a personal preference when critiquing any artist, but also because this fruit hangs far too low. There are definitely some interesting choices of bass licks used to make these songs whole, but none of them can be properly heard as it sounds like it was done on a fisher price baby’s first band kit. The closest thing to a listenable song on this EP is “An Ode to Roy Mustang” for the fact that all the aspects that made me want to smash my computer when attempting to soak this in are seemingly played down to their most minimal aggravated points. Mild instrumental clarity, monotonous vocals (which admittedly suit the scene a very small bit better), and almost a coherent song concept make this particular track listenable, but it’s still a struggle to swallow. Ultimately I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that this effort was made by a teenager for teenagers while expecting adults who’ve lived and banged for the emo scene of the early 2000’s to be on board for fear of not being “with it.”
I’ve been there dude, I was in a band that put out a recording using a cellphone while singing into an aux cord mic and through a set of computer speakers competing with a full actual band. It’s not easy, but it’s also not something you put out into the world if you want to be taken seriously. I never want my words to discourage an artist, but there is a time to put your art up for butchering where you might make some success and a time when any pundit is going to look at your work and go “why the fuck did you do this to me?” I know I’m a grumpy old broken record when I say this, but if you want to make music for people to listen to, actually fucking mean it. Get the right gear, spend money on a decent recording, know your weak points and get some lessons for them. If you don’t plan on actually fucking meaning it, then don’t ask for somebody’s opinion on it and just love your music for what it is.
Written by Jason Greenberg
*Edited by Dominic Abate