JANK - Awkward Pop Songs (Cover Artwork)


Awkward Pop Songs (2015)

Funeral sounds/honest face rec

All things emo must come to an end. Even though the aggressive and angular Pennsylvania emo-duo Panucci’s Pizza had a strong following in the basement show and tape collecting scene, their 2015 break-up has been the blessing that brings us JANK. Panucci’s Pizza guitarist and vocalist, Matt Diamond resumes their singing and guitar noodling duty in JANK, but playing upbeat and poppy math rock instead of the confessional emo songwriting of his past. JANK assembles as a trio in Philadelphia. They call themselves “Weed Pop” and any quick scroll through their social media accounts will reveal how they’ve come with that.

It’s obvious that JANK rose from the ashes of an emo band. They’ve kept the stylings of eccentric guitar playing, but they’ve ditched the serious tone and dread of an emo band for upbeat punk loosely comparable to the hooks from a group like Cap’n Jazz or The Promise Ring. Awkward Pop Songs opens up with a fierce guitar lead on “Ouran Highschool Toast Club” which eases into a melodic chord progression complemented by Diamond’s throaty and urgent vocals. On the second song “Wut I Liek Abt U,” JANK shows their pop chops with a catchy guitar riff and sugary melody throughout the track. “Caitlyn” exemplifies everything likeable about JANK; super catchy vocals and multiple recurring guitar riffs that showcase surprising turns a song can take. Another favorite, “Spilt To Bill” keeps up the technical riffing and hooky verses, but diverts to a jammy math rock interlude that explodes back into the final verse. Throughout the entire record, JANK pack so many different melodies into a single song without being bloated or forced.

With song titles like “//eed is Tight” (yes, those are backslashes and forward slashes), “Vin Decent” and “Spilt to Bill” it might be hard to take this band seriously before listening, but it’s honestly part of these stoner’s charm. Things get a little too cheeky during “J A N K !” in which there’s a chant of “This is a rip-off of a Title Fight song” but it’s all easy to forgive after being exposed to songwriting that’s stronger than any other band in their indie-emo scene. The album does have a few too many filler songs; the 8-bit beats on “Loading Screen”, some straight up Weird Al nonsense like “The Hat Store” and then of course, the stoner’s new Kumbaya, “//eed is Tight.” They’re clearly doing whatever they want, so why trim the fat if nobody’s asking?

Awkward Pop Songs is an exciting and fun take on poppy math rock that flips conventional songwriting on it’s dome. The melodies are sticky, the instrumentals are near-virtuosic, and even though the lyrics drift into nonsensical territory, they’re fucking hilarious. Since it’s November release, JANK has toured to the midwest and signed with Philadelphia’s Creep Records for a vinyl release. It’s refreshing to see a small release like this capture people’s attention and leaving us all wanting more. There are endless bands taking their turns in the emo revival getting darker and darker, but for now as long as JANK are here, I think I prefer my emo stoned.