One thing I’ve become accustomed to reviewing records in the rock and hardcore genres is seriousness, and while I gravitate towards the ones that show bands pouring out their souls in raw and a usually non-casual and inaccessible format, it’s a nice change of pace from time to time to jam something that downplays the seriousness for some lighthearted fun. Anarbor is a band that’s known for those qualities, and in their genre they’ve always been able to stand up. Their second full-length Burnout finally has made its way out and as expected, it delivers hard on the hooks – and less on the drama.
Compared to their earlier EPs and first full-length, they’ve stepped up on the rock aspect of their music without sacrificing the crunchy pop that got them hooked into the pop-rock music circles of bands like We the Kings, NeverShoutNever! and The Downtown Fiction. All of these songs are under three minutes or barely over that threshold, making this short and sweet. Slade Echeverria sounds confident and forceful in his approach as always, taking the usual simple and repetitive topics (love, high school, parental disapproval) and putting the appropriate spins in place. Straightforward moments are a’plenty on the record (“Damage I’ve Done,” “Whiskey In Hell”) and they’re full of the insanely catchy hooks that you’re used to. Out of the gate you will know what to expect, especially with such a high point like “Every High Has a Come Down” as well.
If you’re like me, you were a fan of the groove/funk-like elements present in their earlier works. Those are toned down, but are still there in unexpected situations like in “18” or “It’s a Fact,” with the former congruently utilizing a wah pedal for guitar effect in the bridge over a shimmery progression with vocal harmonies. Production-wise it is less clean than before and not quite as polished, except for the vocals – they’re relatively sparkling. It goes without saying though that this isn’t a negative response; the interesting use of fuzz and octave effects paired with grittier moments in the songs goes a long way into giving them character. It’s a pop-rock record at heart, and although nothing jumps out at me, it sounds totally acceptable for what it is.
Realistically, Anarbor only falls flat on the slower jams of the record, “Take My Pain Away” and “Rock to My Roll,” which are relatively bland and don’t shoot for much more than generic slow ballad height. They’ll be eaten up by those who like sappier simple songs, but otherwise they’re largely forgettable.
When you break it down, Burnout is a record of lighthearted rock and roll songs with some interesting quirks here and there, but ultimately it’s something fun to listen to on a summer’s day. So forget about the drama for a moment and run through it – that’s what these records are for. Is this record going to blow Anarbor up to super status? Most likely not, but it is definitely enough to keep them going through their next few tour cycles.