When I say the words “pop-punk,” what comes into your mind? Is it visions of Warped Tour-goers, singing along to overproduced, radio hitmakers like Good Charlotte or Fall Out Boy? Well, it shouldn’t. There are plenty of bands out there that give pop-punk a good name. Bands like Bloomington, Indiana’s Good Luck, whose sophomore effort Without Hestation blew me away. I didn’t hesitate (get it? get it? ehh?) to give this record an A.
See. I’m going to admit something that’s maybe a little embarassing. For as much as I try (and often fail) to come of as a super hip music writer, I have a couple weaknesses. In addition to my love of cheesy mid-90s hip-hop (think Kid N Play and Skee Lo), I also have a really big thing for pop-punk.
You see, pop-punk was my first love, musically speaking. My actual first love was Kimberly, the pink Power Ranger, but that’s not really the point. Some of the first bands I ever began to obsess over fell into this sugary, hook-laden genre: Blink-182, Green Day and even their Christian-themed rip-offs, Relient K. And as much as I write these bands off now (except when I nostalgiaclly put on Take Off Your Pants and Jacket), they were really a gateway to everything I listen to now. I would never have discovered any of the bands I listen to now if it hadn’t been for all that teen angst.
So when I say that Good Luck is a pop-punk band, don’t freak out. What I’m saying is that they know how to write beautiful, hook-laden songs with the energy of the best punk bands. Their instrumentals are always tightly written, moving beyond the standard four power chords that most pop-punk bands keep in their arsenal. In fact, they have a lot more tricks up their sleeves than most other bands playing today.
Good Luck’s guitarist Matt Tobey and bassist Ginger Alford take turns switching off on vocal duties. Plenty of bands with setup have one singer that stands out far above the other, and you always find yourself skipping Singer Number Two’s tracks. Not so with Good Luck. Alford and Tobey both bring their own strengths to the table, and there’s no difference in quality between Alford-led tracks like “Novel Figure” and Tobey’s more guitar-heavy tracks like “All Good People” and “Significant Day.”
I’m always really impressed with Tobey’s guitar playing. He tackles both rhythm and the occasional lead part. His style of playing is swift and fluid without being overly technical. He knows exactly when to provide accompaniment and exactly when to kick his playing up a notch, belting out immediately gripping and catchy riffs.
The only downside to this record is that the songs are so catchy, you’ll have them stuck in your head for a pretty long time. Seriously, I’ve been singing “It Gets Harder” to myself all day. It’s sort of a problem, but one I enjoy.
So, if “pop-punk” isn’t a dirty word to you, you should really check out Without Hesitation. It’s an amazingly well-written record with tons of replay value. Plus, when you buy it on vinyl, it comes on an awesome colored disc. So there’s that, too.