Pop-punk has become a dirty word lately. A generation of preening teenage musicians looking to get back at the girls that broke
their hearts in high school slide on a pair of Ray Bans, brush the Justin Bieber-styled hair from their eyes and take the stage with paint-bynumber
tunes approximating 9th grade love notes. And that’s fine ... there will always been an audience for easily digestible, wholly
uninspiring music. Still, when an outfit like Born Without Bones comes along - a group that plays pop-punk the way it was meant to be
played (with passion and creativity) - we're forced to re-evaluate our preconceptions and biases toward the genre. How did we go from the
Ramones to top 40?
At the risk of overloading Born Without Bones with superlatives, it’s safe to assert that Say Hello - an undeniably impressive hybrid of indie
rock and pop punk - is one of the best debuts of 2011. The guitars are often steeped in aggression, bursting with distorted chords and
driving rhythms. These powerful anthems are complemented perfectly by precision-tight drumming, not to mention melodies and harmonies
that would make Brian Wilson envious, and hooks sharp enough to snag you on the first listen.
And just when think you have Born Without Bones' influences pegged as solely pop-punk, the band slips in piano and strings that bring to
mind indie rockers such as Death Cab for Cutie or Band of Horses. Even the album opener works in soulful trumpet and sax, and the
contradictions continue with the songwriting, which manages to be both deeply personal and easily relatable at the same time. Not an easy
feat, to say the least. I challenge just about any musician playing today not to feel the slightest bit of regret that they didn’t write a song like
“Sound Of A Crowded Room” or the stripped-down and melancholy “You.” Recorded by Kory Gable (Strike Anywhere, The Dangerous
Summer, I Call Fives), it's almost as if Say Hello has no right to sound this solid and accomplished, especially for a band that’s been
together barely a year.
Born Without Bones originally started as a solo project for Scott Ayotte. “I wrote a bunch of songs from ages 16-19, picked my favorite ones
and recorded all the instruments,” stated the front man. “After about a year of solo touring, I asked Ian (Opijnen, guitar), Pat (Murphy,
drums) and Jim (Creighton, bass) to join so we could start doing full band stuff.” With the missing pieces in place, Born Without Bones has
only existed in this more complete incarnation since the beginning of this summer.
Regardless of experience (or lack thereof), we as listeners can be grateful that someone finally decided to take back pop-punk and restore
it to its former glory. Not a moment too soon either; it was feeling a bit precarious for anyone over the age of 17 to show an affinity for the
genre. Thankfully, Born Without Bones has made it safe to love pop-punk again and it's given those achy teenage hearts.
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