In 2012 UK pop-punk began its takeover and Bath natives Montroze have been there since the beginning, releasing a steady stream of EPs that have seen them polish and refine their sound. Their latest release ESCAPE sees them take the next step in their evolution with six tracks that aim to capture the rawness of the band’s live shows.
It’s immediately noticeable that years of touring and releasing have whipped this band’s sound into a harder and more weathered form. There’s a weight to the guitars that isn’t ordinarily expected from pop-punk and while the band are still unequivocally a part of that world, they clearly have aspirations well beyond it. A polished production job aids the band’s quest for raw sound as it emphasises the hard-hitting drums and punchy guitars without softening any of their impact, this is how a British pop-punk record should sound. Over the course of the EP Montroze show their versatility in exploring all facets of the pop-punk sound from the classic bounce of ‘Pages of a Different Book’ to the acoustic ‘Contemplation’.
The second track ‘Shameful You’ is a stand out and by far the most telling of what this band have to offer, Jason Bishop’s vocals strain into their most memorable hook yet. A release full of tracks like this would undoubtedly see the band rise to the top of their scene faster than you can say “I like this song”. If this is the EP’s stand out moment then it’s followed by the biggest misstep in acoustic ballad ‘Contemplation’. It often feels like bands of this kind are obligated to have a ballad per release and only on rare occasion do they stand out. That said there’s an endearing sincerity in Bishop’s lyrics that becomes most evident on this track, it’s not a bad example of the trend and if acoustic pop-punk is your bag then you’ll doubtlessly find more enjoyment in it than me.
Make no mistake ESCAPE is a pop-punk release through and through, with all the genre’s strengths and weaknesses in abundance. A stellar production captures a powerful live sound inside fifteen minutes of recording and it comes bursting out of the speakers. Montroze demonstrate a mastery of their craft on this record and on tracks like ‘Shameful You’ they hint at ownership of it.