Young Hearts - Nowhere Kids (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Young Hearts

Nowhere Kids (2009)


If I had to describe Young Hearts' EP Nowhere Kids in the least words possible I'd probably just say "New Jersey and Long Island," even if the band is from Brooklyn. There is no mistaking that this is a pop-punk record but it would be foolish to ignore the band's debt to hardcore punk as well. However, to assume Young Hearts can be grouped in with the swell of bands that have followed in Set Your Goals footsteps would be kind of off the mark as they borrow from an older vintage of acts like Bouncing Souls, Lifetime and the Movielife. Rather than Blink-182 style pop brushing up against gang vocals and breakdowns, there is a confident restraint shown in the way melody and aggression work together for the band. The question is whether or not that restraint creates something that does more than just break from current trends.

The bass intro and guitar jabs that open "Quiet Living" can be a little misleading as the song gives way to bright guitar leads and a bouncy rhythm that lends itself to dancing a little better than fist pumps and stage dives. The key comes in the breakdown about three quarters through the song that reintroduces some of the grit hinted at in the intro, but doesn't sacrifice the poppiness of the rest of the song for a growl. "Distraction" teases us in similar ways with a drum intro that would suggest something considerably more heavy than it ends up being; in fact, it probably has the most thoroughly poppy vocal performance of the entire EP. The vocals are one of the highlights of the album as they switch between clean singing to a more straightforward scratchy hardcore yell that combine melodies and harmonies that are surprisingly sophisticated.

I've given a bit of attention to how well the band can fluidly combine different elements in a single song to great success; some of the best moments here occur when they are at their most contrasting and their most uncomplicated. Take for instance "Down and Out," where the main guitar riff employs a delay effect and progression that is unabashedly power-pop and meets it with vocals are somewhere out of Latterman's strained yelp playbook.

While Nowhere Kids is far more dynamic than a lot of pop-punk records out there today and there is some really enjoyable tunes in this seven-song EP, there is still something missing. It holds my attention the entire time I'm listening to it but once I no longer am I don't seem to remember much. I still recommend it if you want to listen to some hardcore-influenced pop-punk that doesn't delve into laughable stereotypes. Good but not great.