While its titans haven’t exactly gone anywhere, pop-punk has been falling more and more from the public consciousness every year. The mid 2000s boom that saw bands like Mayday Parade, All Time Low and Fall Out Boy fill up stadiums seems to have run dry, as cookie-cutter metalcore acts using the ‘verb-the-noun’ naming template rush in to fill the gap. But as pop-punk’s diehard audience ages and the emo revival gathers steam in the underground, the genre has quietly mutated into something that’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Short Stories’ debut EP is a frenetic assignment from the modern school of pop-punkery. Like current scene heroes The Story So Far, Citizen and Basement, the group eschew the ‘sensitive boy’ vocal presence and instrumental that characterised the genre so heavily in the past, bringing more hardcore fire to the mix. When Love is Lost is tailor-made for passionate moshpits in sweaty rooms.
Don’t let that cover art deceive you; for an independent debut, the EP sounds extremely polished and professional. But where the EP begins to fall a bit short is its sense of deja-vu. Short Stories sound great together, but often fall into generic genre tropes, like on the beginning of the song ‘Spring Fling’, with a drumbeat and vocal melody that could have been copy-pasted from any number of songs from the past fifteen years. That doesn’t mean that Short Stories are simply going through the motions, however; there’s plenty of passion and nascent personality that keeps the EP engaging. The opener, ‘Here’s To Hoping’ progresses quite nicely and was a perfect choice to introduce this collection of songs, with its propulsive energy and fists-in-the-air chorus. Lyrically, there are a few potholes and stale moments (‘Look at the bright side/your heart is dead but your body’s still alive/look at the bright side/your chest’s stained red but love can still survive‘)
but behind the passionate delivery, they’re definitely forgiveable.
When Love is Lost showcases a band in their early stages, still hard to separate from their influences, but definitely promising. With a bit of maturity, I can see Short Stories cementing their place within the current generation of party punk idols.