Review Summary: Honest and emotional pop-punk hasn't been this good in years.
There are so many things to like about Richmond, VA’s Hold Tight! that their debut full length “Can’t Take This Away” could almost charm you to death. The scrappy pop-punk feels genuine and the blistering pace of the record keeps clear of any boring territory. Best of all: it’s a FREE download via Death to False Hope Records!
Hold Tight! like to do it fast. Only five of the fourteen songs even reach the two-minute mark, and, save for the closing track, the album’s mid-tempo buildups are the only slow down you’ll get. (“Cornered” and the title track would be sure nominees for this year’s “Fastest Punk Song” Grammy, if such an award existed.) Fortunately the band has figured out how to pack a heaping amount of raw dual vocals into their short and fast jams. The vocal trade off works well, but there are tons of bands utilizing a switch/combination of gruff mid-pitched shouts and higher pitched vocals. Lyrically, Hold Tight! aren’t breaking any new ground with songs about friends, relationships, and growing up. That being said, their snarky and refreshingly optimistic views on these topics are sure to inspire countless sing alongs.
It’s the sense of innocence and juvenile charm that makes “Can’t Take This Away” so immediately catchy but subtle hints of maturity and things to come give this album its replay value. “Can’t Take This Away” finds Hold Tight! at an important crossroad in their lives, somewhere between the formative years and the full realization of themselves, both personally and musically. “Irony Is for ***ers” kicks off with a bouncy hook that could easily fit on an early New Found Glory record and you don’t have to worry about missing moments reminiscent of the Movielife. “This Is My House, I Have to Defend It” brings to mind old-school Saves The Day, but overall the band unabashedly wear their love of seminal New Jersey band Lifetime on their sleeves. For those of us who grew up in a certain era, “Can’t Take This Away” possesses all the qualities of the bands that likely made us fall in love with pop inspired hardcore. For younger listeners, Hold Tight! falls in well in a revival of the genre alongside Title Fight, Transit, and (the far less talented) the Wonder Years.
While the band don’t exactly push boundaries or deviate from an already established sound, they seem to know their strengths and excel at crafting catchy, speed driven tracks that are fun and inspiring both on record and live. Closing track “One Foot Down” is the real gem of the album though, moving at a much slower tempo with lyrics that hit the emotional high mark for the band. “We can do more than remember, we can feel that way tonight,” they sing on the closing track, and whether they’re talking about a friendship, a lover, or the state of melodic hardcore/pop-punk, Hold Tight! have the power to convince you that you can indeed feel something.