Published Aug 14, 2015It's easy for an emotive pop punk record to come off contrived if the tried-and-true ingredients of passion, honesty and angst aren't mixed carefully. You Vandal's Abandon All Hope perfectly executes the formula with all the prestige and style of Brand New's early recordings. From the harmony between the two distinct vocal tracks, which blends smooth and harsh tones, to lyrics that are angsty but not painfully self-indulgent, to their ear for the melodious, Abandon All Hope pulls more from Your Favorite Weapon than the Saves the Day song from which they take their name.
You Vandal keep their heads above a sea of pop-punk mediocrity by knowing when to soften their edges and when to crank up the distortion. The album's bloodier cuts, like "Smashed" and "Say It Out Loud," are brought to life with massive guitars and powerful vocal force and presence. Other songs, like album highlight "Pixies," bob at a mid-tempo pace, leaving plenty of room for singer Eric Cannon's laments to resonate, and "Die Alone" adds a dash of '90s emo into the mix. Without actually breaking new ground for the genre, Abandon All Hope manages to come off fresh, offering something that feels both nostalgic and inspired. (Chisel Records)