Starting an album with a lyric that says ‘we’re fucking great at being basic’ could be taken one of two ways. It either shows a band who accept their limitations and wear them with pride on their sleeve, or equally it’s simply a very foolish way to say that this is all there is to the band and what you see is what you get. Whichever way you take the lyrics, opening song Featherweight doesn’t really offer much confidence for pop-punk stalwarts WSTR debut, Red, Green Or Inbetween.
Firstly lets get the good things out the way, because WSTR are certainly not without merit. Footprints is a genuinely catchy slice of the pop-punk sound, with its bouncing chorus and Harry Potter references in its lyrics making it very much in touch with the teenage audience that the band have created with full force over their short career. Lonely Smiles does the same job with similar results, boasting a smile-inducing message of self worth that is always a pleasure to listen to. Past these two clear highlights, songs like Nail In The Coffin and Penultimate both have enough energy to get your foot tapping, but play it all very much by the rules penned by the genres godfathers NEW FOUND GLORY.
This leads to the issues found with Red, Green Or Inbetween. The album is painfully bland throughout. It lacks anything really forward thinking, especially when bands like KNUCKLE PUCK are already displaying an ability to write pop-punk that feels somewhat fresh. The mid-album speedbump, Eastbound and Down, is a cookie cutter attempt at writing something somewhat heartfelt, but the basic lyrical content and uninspired guitar leads mean that the song never really takes off like they clearly want the track to do. Placing Kings Cup right after also immediately jumps the pacing back up and doesn’t aid in making the previous slower number memorable at all.
WSTR came under some pretty heavy flak when their SKRWD EP dropped because of how similar their sound was to the likes of NECK DEEP and THE STORY SO FAR and instead of distancing themselves from these comments, WSTR seem intent on burying themselves deeper in. Whilst this means that whatever the band produce will have an easy listening likeability, the lack of innovation or even attempt at trying something a bit different means that Red, Green Or Inbetween falls considerably short.
As the final track Punchline plays out, self-depreciating lyrics offer juxtaposition to those far more optimistic lines of previous tracks and it feels like a standard ending to a standard album. It’s unfair to say that Red, Green Or Inbetween is a bad album, because it isn’t. The songs featured are played with enough gumption to make the initial listen enjoyable, but in terms of the forward progression of their sound or adding anything new to the already tried and tested pop-punk formula? Afraid you’re going to have to keep on looking.
Red, Green Or Inbetween is out now via No Sleep Records.
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