Truth be told, the pop-punk scene didn’t half trip itself down the steepest of hills just as things appeared to be breaking out into very interesting times. Maybe the need for mainstream foot-tapping melodies over-balanced the logistics necessary in ‘keeping it real’, the fashion equivalent of bringing two north-facing magnets together?
Next Stop Atlanta take to the stage with this history – albeit not personal – putting its hand on their shoulders. For the best part of their EP is reimagining the past, remembering how everything was and could have been. This is the photo album flick-through which doesn’t involve awkwardly skimming past elderly relatives in bikinis or parental units in states of undress. Smiles and relief all round, not least in the familiar surroundings of breakfree choruses lifted above melodic free-for-alls and snappy surf guitars.
To British ears this could seem positively garish, so thankfully the lyrical content has melancholy and regret whisked into the generally over-familiar streetsmart attitude. Unlike the kind of throwaway “songs with no meaning” referenced in the brilliantly catchy “I’ll Catch Fire”, there are substantial, heartfelt moments throughout, strides away from the playground lowlights from recent years.
Opener and typesetting nightmare “fourteennineeightseven” has more bounce than Freejumpers let loose in a multi-storey, all layers of vocal and runaway drums and the much maligned stop/start ending. In short, these are top songs more “Deathcar” than “Ticket Out of Loserville”.
Lesser publications would make issues aplenty with NSA’s female singer, who speaks assuredly from the heart without vocal trickery or (and here’s the thing) an accent from the Emo Stageschool. When asked to soothe worried souls (“When Perfection is Key”) or put the record straight (“You, Me and the Dance Flaw”), her authenticity far outshines any audacity.
That could well be the best summary for the EP; polished production, and tasty little guitar breaks which are superb and conventional in almost equal measure. There is no threat of history sticking out its leg anytime soon, there’s clearly a lot of Next Stop Atlanta to go round only hinted at here. A fine EP and much promised, even if the ambition of the band name may be a while off yet…