Life Lessons is not a departure from 2012’s deeply treasured debut Angst, but is a fitting sequel that has continued its momentum
Released 8th July 2014
Pure Noise Records
When The Story So Far released their ground-breaking second album What You Don’t See in 2013, the bar for modern pop-punk music was raised. It seemed 2014 would be an opportunity for new blood to take their place in the foreground of the genre, with bands like Neck Deep, Real Friends, State Champs and Handguns grappling for recognition.
Handguns have yet to garner a true following outside of the U.S. and are yet to embark on even a headline tour in the U.K. but have extensively opened for legends The Wonder Years, and their new record should propel them into the stratosphere. Life Lessons is not a departure from 2012’s deeply treasured debut Angst, but is a fitting sequel that has continued its momentum, and should see the cult following of Handguns increase to a wider spread fan base.
The epic tour de-pop-punk opens with ‘Anvil’ a 1:21 cracker that throws you straight into the deep end of fast paced and emotional melody, the listener is treated to the angst-ridden feels of Angst and is then moved onto the lead single ‘Sleep Deprived’ where the lyrics and song structure continue to reflect their debut but with a slightly cleaner production value, but not too overcooked. So far we’re happy.
The mid-section of the album successfully encompasses a good balance of pop-punk clichés ‘’I can’t seem to shake this feeling of always staring at the ceiling’’ and accessibility as well brutally honest lyrics which is always pleasing to listeners who look for a catharsis in music, and front man Taylor Eby delivers with unparalleled intensity. Something that must be understood about this record is that it does not bring anything new to the table, it is not innovative nor is it particularly intelligently crafted, but it is an absolute blinder of a record, especially considering the pressure it had on it to equal the success of Angst. Delightfully memorable hooks and choruses bring the listener gleefully through the album, with songs like ‘Heart Vs Head’ and ‘The Loved Ones Who Hate Us’ carrying a happy-sad juvenility that can’t help but be adored.
It is interesting to note that the latter half of the record actually holds some of Handguns’ finest material to date, and ‘Queens’ is the best song they have ever churned out, blistering energy should make this one to look out for in live shows and should definitely be considered for a single.
There are a lot of generic pop-punk bands that are bringing a certain redundancy to a genre that is simple by nature, but Handguns are holding the flag high for hopeful young bloods looking to earn a name for themselves. Life Lessons remains one of the most enjoyable releases of 2014, and will be a favourite for many. Watch out for Handguns.