WSTR – ‘Identity Crisis’ – 31/08/18
Pop punk titans WSTR have exploded back onto the music scene with their second album, Identity Crisis. This LP incorporates musical elements from varying genres, whilst also staying true to the four piece’s classic pop punk roots.
‘Tell Me More’ opens with a weighty guitar riff that quickly sets the track apart from your average pop punk song. The band have been focusing more on producing tracks that are equal parts catchy lyrics and good music for this new record, and this is highlighted in most of the album tracks. Tell Me More is a strong opener, and one that hints at the subtle musical experimentation present throughout the rest of the LP.
Taking things up a notch is ‘Crisis’, with punchy drums, dynamic guitars, and lyrics that are almost a morbid commentary on society. The run-of-the-mill pop punk chorus does nothing to bring this song down; it’s a strong track that highlights the progress made by WSTR since the release of their debut album in 2017. The subtle additions of synths and vocal reverb add real depth to the song, which could be easily mistaken for one of All Time Low’s early songs.
WSTR’s pop punk sound is present throughout the majority of Identity Crisis, meaning the acoustic introduction to ‘Silly Me’ comes as a bit of a relief. While the acoustic nature of the intro was attacked in much the same way as any other track on the album, it offers a brief respite with it’s gentler sound before the track launches into something that is equally (if not more) pop rock than the rest of the album.
A recurring theme throughout Identity Crisis is transparency regarding heavy topics in the band’s lives. The music is catchy and enjoyable, masking the hefty nature of some of the lyrics. ‘Hide Everything Sharp’ has chugging guitars accompanied by synths that add more dimension to the music. The brutally honest lyrics are delivered at a different pace and with a different rhythm, and the bridge composed of electronic instruments shines through as a moment of genius.
Doing more to break up the occasionally grating pop punk sound of this LP is ‘See You In Hell’. The lyrics tell a story that doesn’t quite fit with the acoustic nature of the track, but because the music is laid back, the well-written lyrics become the focal point. Of course, WSTR wouldn’t produce an average acoustic track; the layered guitars and reserved drums keep beat, and the sing-along chorus draws inspiration from other songs. Musically, See You In Hell is more mature than previous WSTR tracks, but the lyrical themes of love and loss would be at home in any average pop punk track.
Identity Crisis shows that WSTR have come on in leaps and bounds since their debut album, Red, Green, or Inbetween. While not groundbreakingly amazing, this LP has shown WSTR to be dabbling in new and different styles of music, and drawing inspiration from new places. As always
with pop punk records, Identity Crisis is an easy and enjoyable listen, providing you aren’t expecting an album that stands to redefine pop punk.
Review: Dottie Giles