JPNSGRLS - Circulation

by Nathan Fidler Rating:7 Release Date:2015-04-06

Although you should never trust the comparisons made of new bands anyway, I'll point out that JPNSGRLS aren’t anything like the bands they’re being touted to be “the next...” of. This is a pop-punk album which manages to strike a sound which isn’t overly aggressive and doesn’t rely too heavily on the whiny vocals which became part and parcel of the scene.

While the heady days of mainstream pop-punk are over, it’s really good to hear a different band take up the mantel and run with it. ‘Smalls’ so perfectly encapsulates the scattershot feel of JPNSGRLS, with racing guitars to match the stream-of-conscious-style singing of Charlie Kerr.

In fact, the opening trio of songs on Circulation is so impressive that you might feel let down by the rest of the album. ‘Tiger’ takes the edge off the pace but has a falsetto chorus with charisma and swing, while ‘Brandon’ has the archetypal bass-chug which allows for an explosive chorus.

There are some typical topics covered across this album (getting high, lust, getting out of town, and rebellion in suburbia), but they’re approached with a little bit more intelligence than when pop-punk was at its peak. However, for every “Maker's Mark is mother’s milk, isn’t it?”, there is a trite “The liquor habit fills the liquor cabinet but we still blame our folks”.

By the time you reach the end of the album, you might feel a little tired and deflated, especially if you don’t skip ‘Laughing Gas’. However, if you can stick around for ‘Brace Yourself’ and ‘Oh No Echoes’, you’ll be rewarded. The riffs scattered across the album aren’t instantly memorable but they’re not simply in place as filler; they offer a platform on which Kerr can play, whether he’s letting out a dizzying yell or shimmying along with falsetto lines like “I don’t got the blues/ but the blues got me for sure”.

This isn’t a throwback album by any means; there is far more to enjoy here than what was offered up by most popular bands in the 2000s. Just don’t expect to love it as a whole. Expect instead to cherish particular tracks, as was the specialism (and the downfall) of most pop-punk/pop-rock bands.

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