If you look at Saving Sebastian’s Facebook page, their profile pic says ‘Crappy Pop-Punk.’ Pop-punk fans will be aware that this is a nod towards Blink 182, however you don’t need to get far into their new EP ‘Minefield’ to know 2 things: 1) It isn’t just their profile pic that has a nod to Blink 182 and bands of that era – the music is clearly influenced by that era too and 2) There is no way that Saving Sebastian’s music can be described as ‘crappy.’ This is the sort of EP that makes me feel that Tony Hawkes should put out a new game just so it could be on the soundtrack.
Pop-punk seems to have evolved over the years but Saving Sebastian’s style is very reminiscent of the late-90s – early-00s era of pop-punk. For people who love this style of music, there doesn’t seem to be much of this about at the moment. Fortunately, Minefield excels in this genre.
The EP start with Hometown – a song about wanting to get out of your hometown (no pop-punk album would be the same without one). Look a little deeper though and this is actually quite a sad song about being unhappy and unfulfilled in the current situation. Lyrics like “I’ve been lying for a while, hide behind this plastic smile,” give a hint that there is more depth to this than is immediately apparent.
The band have been around since 2010 and admit themselves that they haven’t really taken things as seriously as they should until recently. They attribute this recent change to the arrival of their current drummer Oli Hasse in 2017. Listening to some of the drumming on Hometown, it’s understandable how they felt that he was the missing piece of the puzzle.
The song is instantly catchy with a great, bouncy, sing-along chorus, which must go down brilliantly live. The instrumental section provides some variety but without losing the energy of the song.
The second song is the title track ‘Minefield,’ which feels slightly more intense and hits home what one of the things is that sets this apart from other music in the same genre: everything is a bit heavier and doesn’t quite have that over-produced sound that pop punk can have, adding to the energy of the songs.
Lyrically, Minefield is very strong and it tells the story of a relationship gone wrong “We sat in silence and she’s staring at the screen. For so long I’ve handed her my time and I’ve given her the best part of me.” Listening to the song gives me a mental image of these two people sat in the living room after an argument, not wanting to stay together but neither able to bring themselves to leave. “Don’t look at me that way. You knew that it would come to this. I’m sick of feeling like I’ll never be enough.”
All of these things make Minefield a great song but the main take away from it is the superb chorus, which is one of those that you love the first time that you hear it and then spend the next two days trying to get it out of your head. It’s definitely one of the catchiest choruses I’ve heard for a long time.
The current single, ‘Saving Grace’ starts with a great guitar riff, from John McDonagh, which the song keeps coming back to. This is especially effective when it provides the bed for yet another great Saving Sebastian chorus.
This song feels a bit more hopeful than the previous songs, (“these last three years had me a little worried but life’s a trip, I wouldn’t have it any other way”) despite the more aggressive guitar hooks, which, again give that extra bit of energy to the song. The song also really showcases the dual vocals from Sonny Townsend and Jamie Price, whose voices lend themselves perfectly to pop-punk and also compliment each other well.
The final track, confusingly called ‘The,’ is a good choice for a final track. Like the other three songs, it has big production and a great, sing along chorus but this one has a big build to the last chorus that a last track on a release should have.
This song sounds a little angrier than the others and it feels like Price is almost spitting some of the verse words out, while Townsend also seems to step up the intensity in the chorus. “So stoned so scared right out my mind , If she asks just tell her I’m doing fine, So f**king fine I can hardly believe, Haven’t slitten my throat though I’m gritting my teeth.”
Saving Sebastian have managed to write an EP that works on two levels. To listen to casually, it’s pop-punk at its best: every song has an incredible, bouncy chorus, fantastic energy and the whole EP just makes you want to sing along and jump around the room. However, if you really take the time to listen to the EP properly, you can hear that these guys can really play and there are some really interesting and well thought out lyrics.
A quick look online shows that this is Saving Sebastian’s first release for three years. Let’s hope that they are true to their word when they say that they’re going to take things more seriously. On this evidence, they are one of the most exciting bands on the pop-punk scene right now and I won’t be the only one wanting more music.
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Iain Wheeler was born in the Wirral, England and now lives in Bedfordshire (after a short detour to Lincoln) with his wife and 2 children. Iain grew up listening to his parents’ record collection, including things like Little Angels and Bon Jovi. He has since moved on to an eclectic collection ranging from The Wonder Years and Mayday Parade to Bright Eyes and Mojave 3. Currently, he is a school teacher who plays tenor sax for ‘Codename Colin,’ a ska-punk band who released their first EP ‘Outgunned’ in 2017.