Oxford based pop punk six piece Better Than Never released their sophomore EP Head Under Water on December 2nd. The EP is a follow up to debut, Homemade Hero which was released in February this year. The EP itself focuses on some of the band members struggles with depression and anxiety as well as touching on recent happenings in politics.
In this EP the Oxford sextet wear their influences on their sleeve, and that is captured perfectly on the one minute long opening track 126 and lead single and second track on the album Learning To Swim. However to say this band sound generic would be a false claim as the use of interchanging vocals adds depth to both chorus’ and verses, on top of this the three guitars layer over each other perfectly to add even more depth to the songs. This is no more evident than on third track Dreamland Ain’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be, where the layered guitars allow for a heavier edge to the song, drawing more on hardcore influences, even ending the song with a more aggressive hardcore version of the hook laden chorus.
The hardcore ending leads perfectly into penultimate track Forty Eight which starts with hardcore vocals over breakdown-esque beat. Again the use of three guitars add depth to this song, allowing the band to maintain their pop punk identity with one guitar playing a pop punk riff over the hardcore rhythm style of the rest of the band. This song also showcases the versatility of both vocalists as they switch between melodic and hardcore vocals perfectly. The final track Lowhill Lane returns to the more pop punk stylings of the opening two tracks, however once again the multiple guitars and vocalists add great depth to the song.
Overall this is a great advancement from the band’s debut EP. This EP is packed full of the hooks you expect from a pop punk band. However Better Than Never have begun to create their own identity, the use of the three guitars and interchanging vocalists key to this. The hardcore elements also show a willingness to expand from the band. This EP is for fans of Sum-41, A Day To Remember, Blink-182, and anyone else who likes more heavy pop punk or more melodic hardcore. This is a great effort from a UK band only starting off their career in the industry, and definitely worth your time.