It Only Gets Worse From Here: One of the Flag Bearers for the Next Generation of Punk?

Small Town SINdrome is a punk/alt-rock band from the US. The band only formed back in 2018 but already has one awesome album under their belts, 2019’s ‘How This Ends’. The band’s sophomore album, ‘It Only Gets Worse From Here’, is out at the end of the month, but we were allowed a very special sneak preview of it. So, without further ado, join me as I check out the album!

‘Insomnia’ opens on a VERY Blink 182 bass riff, the cymbals tapping away and keeping the beat in the background. The guitars soon come in over the top, quick stabs at first before the most pop-punk riff ever comes in and just makes me happy. It’s hard not to be happy when listening to pop-punk. The guitars all but drop out again as the vocals come in for the verse, it suddenly reminding me a LOT of Social Distortion. Another great band to be compared to, I’d say! The backing vocals make the chorus even catchier than it already would have been, making it an easy choice for crowd interaction at a gig. The structure for the song is both simple and odd to hear these days, having three consecutive verses and choruses, with the only difference being that the third one had no vocals. It was a nice change of pace from the stuff that has been released recently, everyone trying to out technical and weird the other, and it was a fantastic song through and through. Playlisted!

The album’s title track opens on an almost Chad Smith-sounding drumbeat before the guitar and drums come in with an interesting riff over the top. It’s all very early 2000s, but this reminds me a bit more of Pearl Jam and Seven Mary Three thanks to that riff. The verse is again very bass-led, the guitars accenting the vocals more than anything. Then we get an awesome skater-punk chorus, the ‘oh’s of the backing vocals adding so much awesomeness and catchiness to the main melody. The lyrics for this one also really impressed me. I don’t know what it was, they just seemed really well written! A very punk rock riff leads to a simple yet awesome little guitar solo that follows the vocal melody, always an awesome feature in a song. A final chorus takes us home in style to end another great track!

P.S I know these aren’t the right songs for the tracks, but soon!

‘On My Own’ opens on a pretty heavy riff, especially when the drums come in on the offbeat which I loved. Everything about the verse screams Green Day at me, from the pitch of the vocals to the simplistic drums and guitars contrasting perfectly with the awesome, slightly more complex bassline. Yet again, the backing vocals of ‘oh’s and ‘ah’s added some much-needed depth to the choruses and made them even more catchy than they would have otherwise been. We head into another fun guitar solo out of the second chorus, again following the chorus’s vocal melody but playing around with it a bit. We then get a final verse and double chorus to finish off another good punk song!

‘Pretending’ is short and sweet and straight to the point. Sitting at just over 2 minutes long it’s the shortest track on the album, but that doesn’t mean the quality isn’t there. A stripped-back version of the riff gives way to the distorted chord version and it reminds me a little of that one Harvey Danger song, ‘Flagpole Sitta’. However, as it heads into the verse it suddenly draws some massive ska/reggae influence thanks to the off-beat, upstroke guitar chords. It is a technique I LOVE and wish was in more songs these days. There are a few bands still doing stuff like this, with The Skints being one that immediately springs to mind, but 4th wave ska is really taking its time getting here, unfortunately. The chorus is, unfortunately, the least catchy so far, but that may just be because of the lack of many backing vocals. It’s still a good chorus and if anything fits the heavier, straightforward nature of the track better than a more anthemic one. We get a simple structure before the track stops dead after the final chorus. I loved this, and it makes the playlist for the ska riff alone, never mind the rest!

‘Tell Me Why’ channels the band’s inner Lenny Kravitz with the opening riff before we get another Green Day style verse, the slight chugs and funky bassline sounding like a modern-day ‘When I Come Around’. It opens out just enough for the chorus, being catchy and anthemic while still being unquestionably punk, something pretty hard to do. Also, I’m a sucker for ‘oooo’s like Offspring, and the band does it so well at the end of the choruses. It drops down to just the AWESOME bassline and the great drums after the second chorus, it making me pretty envious of his playing and writing skills, it really is an awesome bassline. We then get a final chorus again to close us up. Another awesome track on an album full of them!

Penultimate track ‘To Nothing At All’ feels, for some reason to me, the ever so slight weak link of the album. I don’t know what gives me that impression either, all of it is very Rancid, one of my favourite punk bands of all time. But maybe that’s it, the fact that it ISN’T Rancid, so I feel like I’m judging it a little harder than I otherwise would have. No matter how I feel, it’s still a damn good song, and the chorus is pretty infectious and catchy. This then brings us to the final track, ‘Too Far Gone’. A great little drum roll leads us into a great distorted punk riff, equal parts Social Distortion and Green Day. The bass then takes second place behind the vocals again for an awesome verse before a DAMN catchy chorus rings through. the gang vocals of the song title being repeated a few times is going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the day now, and the lead parts between them are also good. The drums get a great run through the bridge riffs, as does the bass as always before a final chorus again ends things with a catchy bang. This was an awesome track to end the album on, and makes the playlist!

Overall: I loved this. I haven’t had the chance to check out too much punk through this company so far as I simply haven’t heard of enough of it coming out, so this was a fantastic change of pace. The songwriting was awesome and they are all clearly very talented musicians. I thought a couple of times about mentioning the production value, but for a punk band, it doesn’t exactly need Alter Bridge or Def Leppard levels of production. It worked perfectly for the tracks. I cannot wait to get the chance to see these guys live if they can make it out here next year, and I’m looking forward to hearing what they put out in the future!

The Score: 8/10

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