With the followup to their Laura Jane Grace-produced debut Imaginary Life, Brooklyn-based collective Worriers bring another dozen cuts of sincere and succinct pop-punk that's as uplifting as it is contemplative. While the band's no-frills approach often doesn't result in anything quite as rousing as similar acts like Against Me!, RVIVR, Jeff Rosenstock or Iron Chic, Survival Pop is nonetheless a positive contribution to the genre that plays as a rallying cry to those who feel beaten down and broken by the act of living.
Survival Pop is not the socio-political protest that Imaginary Life was, though there are certainly undercurrents that touch on gender identity and self-expression, like in "Not Your Type" and "Best Fear Worst Fantasy." The record is highly personal, carrying a message of self-preservation and empowerment in which singer, guitarist and songwriter Lauren Denitzio — who cites a past including the experience of growing up queer, open-heart surgery at age 25 and losing friends to suicide and substance abuse — draws inspiration from the things their former self would have wanted and need to hear. The songs are plainspoken and accessible, with highlights like the upbeat and super-catchy "The Possibility," the understated and encouraging "WTF Is Sleep" and the spirited closing anthem "Open Heart."
For all the viscerally intimate yet easily quotable lyricism found throughout Survival Pop, Denitzio proves a talented songwriter — but one who may be held back by the limitations of simplistic, four-chord pop-punk. Worriers' message is righteous, their words worth hearing, their music unspectacular yet loveable all the same. (Side One Dummy)