From Ohio, SETTLE YOUR SCORES released their first album in 2016 and have just dropped their second album, 'Better Luck Tomorrow' via SharpTone Records. They’ve already made quite a name for themselves stateside with their live show and are a pop-punk rock band to look out for.
As soon as the first track kicks in it becomes apparent that this is a record that settles mainly in the pop punk-rock category - with the occasional metal growl thrown in for good measure. The vocals are boy-band melodic and the overall sound is rife with hooks. They mix it up with cut throat screaming which gives the whole thing a harder, more aggressive edge. The easy shift between pop, hardcore punk rock and metal makes you sit up and take notice. 'On The Count Of Three' sets the scene, opening with pounding drums leading into a deliciously grumbling bass and a raucous metalcore scream, putting you in the mood for some aggressive head banging. This song is about living with your mistakes and fears, and whether it’s better to stay and work through your issues or walk away. The riffs are relentless.
'Zero Hour' has another bangin intro, this one launching straight in, again with the drums getting a hammering, more catchy riffs and some aggressive bellowing. 'Growing Pains & Throwing Blame' is straight-up party mode pop punk, with a deep dark bass at its foundation, upbeat and insanely catchy. The track slows tempo to a gentler vocal - still melodic as hell - before bouncing straight back up. One for the sunshine! And to get the crowd jumping.
'Dead Man Stalking' is one of the stand out tracks for me - deceptively starting with a simple guitar, morphing quickly into thrashing drums and death growls. This track has more punk to it, more attitude, yet lots more classic guitar including a tasty solo. The vocals are grittier and it took me by surprise and didn’t let me go.
'Keep Your Chin Up & Your Expectations Low' reverts to a more pop-rock base, sweet sounding catchy vocals, catchy riffs and punchy choruses, those driving hooks continued in 'Stuck In The Suburbs'.
'Rise Fall' and 'Your Teeth Vs The Pavement' are also stand out tracks for me; both heavier songs with plenty of metalcore. The way the band switch between pop-punk-like and death growl vocals is seamless! 'Rise Fall' has some mighty chugs and a few "Woah"s thrown in, but the most engaging, entertaining and creative track on the album for me is 'Your Teeth Vs The Pavement' - razor sharp and knife-edged. If you take one thing from this review, check out one of these songs.
'Off/On' doesn’t move me, a slightly predictable pop-rock track chock full of youthful energy. 'No Ragrets' however is infectious and just what I need on a day like today - I need a car with no roof now though… 'Valar Morghulis' is a 1:23 instrumental interlude before the final acoustic love song, 'My Reason to Come Back Home'. At first I wasn’t blown away by this track but it kicks up pace and energy towards the end which mixes things up and makes it more interesting for me. It remains a slightly different style to the rest of the album which may suggest the band simply have varying tastes or that they haven't quite found their direction fully yet.
In all, I was surprised by just how good this album was. The mix of pop, punk and metal is creative and distinct, giving the band an edge over the multitude of pop-rock bands that seem to be emerging. If you'd described it to me before I listened I'm not sure I would get how it works, but it does, and I hope I can give you the incentive to try the album for yourself to make your own mind up. While the majority of the album is pop-rock, there are heavy, dark moments of true inspiration. The pop punk-like vocals pull you in, and the death growls make you stay around. Blink 182 - Green Day - and aggressive bellowing - all on one record.
On the Count of Three
Growing Pains & Throwing Blame
Dead Man Stalking
Keep Your Chin Up & Your Expectations Low
Stuck in the Suburbs
Rise / Fall
Off & On
Your Teeth vs the Pavement
My Reason to Come Back Home
Christian Fisher - Vocals
Ricky Uhlenbrock - Guitar/Vocals
Patrick Bryant - Guitar
Jeffrey Borer - Bass
Caleb Smith - Drums