A lot of bands in the modern pop punk scene seem to be jumping ship from the tried-and-true upbeat, optimistic take on the genre, and instead are drawing heavy emo and grunge influences. Welcome Melbourne Australia’s Apart From This to this pop-punk exodus, although they seem to still have one foot planted firmly in the past.
Apart From This have, instead of wholly committing to an emo sound for their debut album In Gloom, decided to almost meld the two takes on pop-punk into one coherent sound. While this is definitely a bold and commendable move for the band, it doesn’t always work out in the best way. But, needless to say, it has provided an absolutely necessary breath of fresh air in a genre where a lot of music is beginning to sound the same.
And there are a lot of impressive qualities to In Gloom. Aside from the presumed Nirvana and Sonic Youth puns in “In Gloom” and “Chronic Youth” respectively, the actual contents of the album are interesting as well. For one, In Gloom has undoubtedly done justice to the emo genre, with the noodly lead guitar at the forefront of that. Additionally, songs like “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” and “Haunt” blend the band’s two styles seamlessly, and that is a testament to the quality of songwriting on those songs. But the singular aspect in which Apart From This shines more than all others is the Basement-esque depressingly slow sections. Fortunately there’s an abundance of this style on the album, but it’s done best on “Laid in The Lights”.
On the flip side, perhaps that breath of fresh air is more akin to a stuttered gasp than anything else. This is in large part due to the album’s bipolar pace. As soon as Apart from us begins to show glimpses of brilliance like the euphoric ending of “Boltcutter”, the track that follows it completely undermines that brilliance by breaking up the immersive atmosphere. On the second half of the album this is a recurring theme, with the last four songs of the album flip-flopping between styles without the grace employed in earlier songs. Every time the band begins to show excellence, they soon revert to a safer place in their music.
If Apart From This were to commit themselves to fully taking risks in their music instead of only doing so sometimes, I think they could break new ground in the pop punk genre. The emo approach is something being explored by many bands at the moment, so for Apart From This to take a slightly more creative angle with In Gloom is definitely a step in the right direction.