Review Summary: I'M NOT SAD ANYMORE I'M JUST TIRED OF THIS PLACE
Maybe you noticed, but pop-punk is having a moment right now. Is it back in something like the mainstream due to big artists like Olivia Rodrigo nodding towards it on Paramore-influenced pop songs like "good 4 u"? A wave of new rappers grabbing onto its tropes and signifiers thanks to the tireless efforts of one Travis Barker? Or y'know, just the general cycle of generational nostalgia amplified by all of the above and way too much time in lockdown? Whatever the reason, there's a new wave of the genre coming whether stuffy music critics are ready with their disapproving glares or not, and Meet Me @ The Altar are right at the crest of it.
This is not by any means a challenging or boundary-breaking release: from this new revival, KennyHoopla's Survivors Guilt
is slightly bolder in terms of mixing different flavours of pop-punk into the recipe. The good news is that Meet Me @ The Altar have no use for big swings or justifications. I'm sure it's obvious why three women of colour with phenomenal chemistry jamming out truly infectious bangers is more than revolutionary enough for this long-stagnating genre, especially with instrumental and vocal chops that stand out like these. Guitarist and bassist Téa Campbell isn't afraid to truly riff, and even drop into an easycore breakdown here and there, with drummer Ada Juarez capably keeping pace with the twists and turns of the deceptively simple songs. But frontwoman Edith Johnson is the not-so-secret weapon here, between her incredible voice and enthusiastic (if simplistic) songwriting, which flirts with dark notes about mental health and societal malaise but always finds a way to come around to a well-earned sense of optimism.
is absolutely straightforward and all the better for it, even if its second half can't quite live up to the relentless good vibes of "Brighter Days (Are Before Us)" or heavier banger "Mapped Out". The band play their best card first with "Feel a Thing"; riding a deceptively dark lyrical conceit straight into the catchiest chorus this year, the song wraps up everything Meet Me @ The Altar do best in three minutes. There's no overwhelming darkness or intense emotional moments here: it's as likely to remind listeners of the simpler early days of Paramore or goofball enthusiasm of The Upsides
than either band's later work. Don't get stuck on the surface level, though - jump on in with your best Wonder Years hoodie and moshing shoes, and you might just have some goddamn fun. Who's gonna argue with that?