Review Summary: Spill your guts.
Welcome to Spill
, the sophomore LP by the very pop-punk named Dad Hats. Yes, it’s a pop-punk record. No, it’s not awful. In fact, it was actually a surprisingly fun listen with the sort of sincerity that is oft absent from modern day pop-punk.
It’s a bit hard to write this without shooting holes through all of the different pop-punk tropes that are present. It’s all been said and done. The catchy hooks, angst-ridden (and sometimes terrible) lyrics, somewhat simplistic instrumentation, yeah, yeah, whatever. I could spend paragraphs pointing out the flaws of this album but it would be almost like pointing out the flaws that have developed in the genre. You probably pretty much know what the basic problems are without even having to listen to it.
What makes this album good, though? What does it possibly have that makes it a unique drop of water in the ocean? Most immediately is the fact that it balances the typical sugary aesthetic with a more raw approach. There is a tongue-in-cheek flippancy about their music that eschews the usual. It’s practically gushing with springtime vibes and bouncy energy while still being rooted in the unforgivingly harsh reality that is life. The subject matters throughout Spill
are somewhat typical but rather than taking themselves so seriously, there is a bit of a black humor laced throughout, with lines like:
“Should clean the house
“Should change my name
“But I’m thirty-one and still the same
“I still look every time
“Can’t ever help it
“I’m Pavlov’s dog y’all”
“I’ve never really suffered real loss
“The kind that follows you home
“And sits right behind you
“Making pots go to sleep”
The on and off goofy song titles and summery energy by the band belies the bleak undertone of the record, with Craig Turner pouring his heart out while simultaneously taking cracks at the myriad problems of life like unfaithfulness, heartbreak, alcohol abuse, loss, and so on.
Further, it isn’t all just corny guitar lines and massive hooks. The guitar work throughout the album has a tendency to defy what would be normally expected, with a large portion of the record using a Telecaster-like twang to offset the generic pop-punk aesthetic. The largely audible bass adds depth to the mix, while the drums have a uniquely vintage sound, adding an echoing, chunky feel to the songwriting that (when utilized correctly) creates as much of a haunting atmosphere as it evokes fun.
“Lake Song” and “Life in the Back Seat” (both found at the end of the record) are two of the more prevalent examples of what I’m talking about, and I found that as I continued going through, I liked it more. The album gets stronger as it nears the end, and wraps up with the melancholy “Super Bowl Sunday,” the slowest, and probably the prettiest, song on the album.
So while I’m not emotionally stuck to it and it’s not the next best thing to arrive to the pop-punk scene, Spill
is an album worth listening to. It’s charming humor, unique execution, and sometimes brutal honesty are far more than what I’m usually going to get from pop-punk, and it’s nice to see a band try to breathe some life back into genre.