Upset - '76 [EP] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


'76 [EP] (2015)

Lauren Records

In eight tracks, Upset's new EP serves out a huge dose of hooks, harmonies and that sort of ambling, romantic charm that really can only be found in pop punk these days. The songs are often smart-ass ("A Parker Posey party girl"), never longer than three and a half minutes long, and there's a hyped up Jawbreaker cover of my personal favorite Jawbreaker song (get the EP to find out which one). You can tell as well that they've all been playing together for awhile, "Linus" and "The Return" for example having the sort of gallop and ease of a band that are used to one another and know how to make everything flow. Upset's style is smooth, sticky-sweet, and filled with the aforementioned harmonies: "Glass Ceiling," the powered-through opener, has been in my head for weeks from that absolutely perfect chorus.

And just when I got mildly frustrated with how samey Upset was (fun hooks, harmonies, snotty lyrics repeated ad naseum), the last two songs surprised me with their ambition and deeply personal sensibility. "Pastey" is a fairly hard rocker with heartbreak decorating it's surface and a nice breakdown at the end, worth a few repeated listens. Similarly "Wonder" uses only an electrified acoustic, piano and low-key vocals to deliver a deeply melancholy if dryly funny ballad addressed to an old middle school friend: "1999 in New Jersey/Two suburban kids scared to death of everything/We'd test the limits of our bodies/With your brother and all his dangerous hobbies." The friend went "straight and I went under," and anyone who went for Black Flag and the Mats while their old friends never quite woke up will relate. It's the best song on the EP and it packs a punch.

Upset shows a strong tendency for solid hooks, funny lyrics and real ambition; if you like pop-punk with a lot of pop but not too New Found Glory-ish, this band is for you. And if their last two songs here indicate anything, I'm curious to see where they're going.