Over recent years the post-post emo scene has brought forth some truly exquisite rough diamonds of soft-punk indie rock. The likes of Brand New, The Smith Street Band, Joyce Manor, Real Friends and The Front Bottoms have seen continued prominence in their cult like popularity, and have inspired a whole host of new musicians to open their diary pages to the world.
Salt Lake City’s Housewarming Party are taking the foundations of the soft-punk genre and building their own place upon it. The trio’s 5 song E.P ‘Something Less Than Friends’ is out today, and is sure to slot itself safely into the playlists of any fans of the aforementioned bands. This E.P comes at a fitting seasonal time, as summer begins to slip Housewarming Party have brought a release of ‘relationship-oriented punk’ to soundtrack the first bites of Autumnal winds.
Opening track and lead single ‘For Pinks Again’ begins with a catchy sun-tinged DIY instrumental. The repeated melody of the strings and pattern in the percussion through the verses make the tune easy to pick up at a first listen, giving the track a comfortable feeling. Without the rolling optimistic tone of the instrumental the lyrical stance of the song would sound like the resoundingly bitter and regretful questions of a lover left behind. However, in traditional soft-punk style the infusion of the two, along with the hooks and purposeful imperfections of the song make ‘For Pinks Again’ a happily silver-lined cloud of listening.
‘Original Muscle Beach’ is the injection of raucous energy that this EP needs. It’s a mosh pit breaking out and gives ‘Something Less Than Friends’ the injection of anger and slice of resentment needed to balance the lost and lonely tone of the songs. The satisfaction of a natural sounding breakdown teamed with the growling vocal at the chorus opening;
“I wanted to drive in the ocean/when you started seeing him” brings a wrought sense of clarity to the emotion of the track. There’s something about a simple lyric delivered with poignancy that I can’t get enough of, and Housewarming Party nail it here.
‘Grassy Knees’ slows the pace right back down again bring a nice breath of less aggravated air, opening with a gentle female vocal over a simple surf-y sounding tune. Accentuated with mellow chiming sounds, the track sounds altogether very sweet and very sad. Whilst the final minute of the song brings a sudden up-tempo tune and speed, with layers of percussion and strings, the tone retains its softness. Though the lyrics aren’t littered with complexities the addition of a dual vocal heightens the bittersweet vulnerability of the narrative.
Like hearing the name of a movie within the script, I love hearing an album title within lyrics: “from a spark, to a flame, to something less than friends” rolls off the tongue in title track ‘Something Less Than Friends’. With a resoundingly prominent bass, and a building sensation to the track, the breakthrough of the chorus is quietly confident. ‘Something Less Than Friends’ has a twinge of a freshly washed Blink-182, with the thrashier edges rinsed away.
‘Empty June’ brings the E.P to a definitive close. It’s mellow guitar and verge-of-tears vocal sounds very familiar to me. This familiarity is undoubtedly down to the fact my playlists are saturated with broken-hearted breakup serenades, and ‘Empty June’ falls close in line with plenty of them. The track includes a well-placed sample of Dale Cooper’s dying speech from Twin Peaks, which placed over the breakdown catches and cements itself in the ear. (This sample instantly brought me to the breakdown of Modern Baseball’s ‘How Do I Tell A Girl I Want To Kiss Her?’) Though not assertive in originality, ‘Empty June’ is a natural sounding close to a stellar E.P.
Housewarming Party have created an exceedingly well-polished feat with ‘Something Less Than Friends’. Each track sounds as though it was born in a basement and grew up in a studio; the result is just the right level of smoothness for easy and heartfelt listening. Whilst the narratives may not be grand tales, they are stories that anyone who’s seen love grow dark could catch themselves on.