OLD FLAMES, BRIGHT LIGHTS – THE MESS (EP REVIEW)

Before we begin

 

Old flames, bright lights (OFBL) is a five piece pop-punk band from Cincinnati, Ohio. Consisting of Casey Applegate on lead vocals, Addyston Tucker Ray on guitar, Ronnie Royse on guitar, Chance Manning on bass, and Adam Evans on drums. The mess is this band’s debut EP after forming in 2016. While this band may be young but it consist of some super dedicated and experienced musicians. I have personally been invested in this band since they first announced their formation and I consider members of this group to be friends. So with that out of the way I will set aside my personal bias and deliver an honest and fair review.

 

Track by track

 

Track 1 – Strange Things are Afoot 03:16

 

Pop punk are the two words that most accurately describe the beginning of this track. Opening with a groovy in your face guitar riff that is quickly accompanied by heavy hitting drums creating a thrashy pop punk melody. This thrashy instrumental is then elevated by an emotional vocal performance and powerful lyrical content. As the song progresses we see the guys step up the heaviness well at least vocally. This chant like gruff vocal pattern helps add a layer of depth that this song was missing previously. While this song does a lot of things right it isn’t perfect I really only have two issues with this track. The first of which is rather not picky but still worth being noted during the bridge when “at least I won’t be fading on my own” is being sung it comes off as flat and lacking the power that the rest of the vocals on this song possess. And finally my only major complaint with this song is less of what it does and more of what it doesn’t do, while the song is strong it doesn’t stand out in a line up it fits in too seamlessly with the rest of the subgenre.

 

Overall rating: 7/10

 

Track 2 – Every Adam Sandler Movie Can’t Be Wrong, Right 02:48

 

There is a reason this was the lead off single from this ep. And that’s because it’s where we see this band start to flourish but still stay true to those pop punk roots. The song opens with an energy that makes you want to just let go and jump around which is exactly what it needed to do. In this track we see OFBL explore a more storyteller-esque style of writing and it works to there benefit. Perfectly leading to arguably the catchiest chorus on this entire EP. All before leading to arguably the heaviest moment on this EP. Which may sound a little jarring it flows perfectly together. While this song isn’t perfect it does exactly what it needed to do and that’s demonstrate this band’s depth and ability to change things up.

Overall rating – 8/10

 

Track 3 – I never loved you 02:51

 

This is a song that I was highly interested in ever since the band released a stripped down version ten months ago. But that hype leaves me very torn on this track. Lyrically and for the most part structurally it is the same song I grew infatuated with. It’s still undeniably catchy and a great choice to jam in the background but it has some flaws. The largest of which being that the song sounds cluttered and sped up. The track could’ve really benefited from letting Casey’s voice breathe a bit more. Casey has one of the most emotional voices in the region and it just feels underutilized and buried on this track. The paceing also suffers in this one this is especially evident starting at 01:32 when Casey is delivering those lines it feels less as if he’s belting them from his soul and more as if he’s speed reading with a melody.

 

Overall score: 5/10

 

Track 4 – How I Spent My New Years Eve 01:09

 

As the shortest track on this release I wasn’t expecting a lot but after multiple listens I was pleasantly surprised. Opening with a gruff vocal performance that at first listen is a bit jarring and I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about it. That’s until the crisp cleans are added into the mix the contrast they create is fantastic and are what make this track worthwhile. My biggest complaint tho has to be the length of this song it leaves me feeling unfulfilled and wanting so much more.

 

Overall rating: 7/10

 

Track 5 – Coffee With A Dead Girl 03:16

 

This for me is the most complete track on the EP. Opening with saddened vocals it quickly sets itself apart from the rest of this release and that’s fantastic. Again returning to the storyteller-esque lyrical style that worked for them previously and this time it jumps to an entirety new level. Accompanied by Casey’s emotional vocals and catchy instrumental this song is setup for success.

 

Overall rating – 9/10

 

Production

 

This EP was produced, mixed, and mastered by Mark Lienhart of one louder studio. It’s everything you could want  or expect for a modern pop punk ep as far as production goes. It’s crisp, clean, and balanced. Outside of a tad bit of over production on some vocals it’s fantastic.

 

Overall rating: 9.5/10

 

Artwork

 

Created by Sarah Reniers this piece perfectly encapsulates the pop punk spirit. Visually preparing the listener for what they are about to hear.

 

Overall rating: 10/10

 

Final Verdict

 

Overall this is a fantastic debut from a band that has a bright future and a spot in pop punk. While this isn’t perfect it shows a massive amount of potential and jams to cone.

 

Final Score: 7.5/10

 

Favorite tracks

Coffee with a dead girl

 

Every Adam Sandler movie can’t be wrong, right

 

Least favorite tracks

I never loved you

 

Strange things are afoot

 

Bands you may also like

Neck deep – https://www.facebook.com/neckdeepuk/

Next attempt – https://www.facebook.com/NextAttemptOfficial/

Mayfest – https://www.facebook.com/mayfestofficial/

 

Links

 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/oldflamesbrightlightsband/

ITunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-mess-ep/id1238760089

Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/album/3CkU58ahFOP5wdfzFyi5AK

OFBL

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