Not every band needs to reinvent their genre. Every album doesn’t need to be a super ambitious effort to stand out above its peers. Sometimes the best way to stand out is to take what others are doing and do it better. Major League aren’t breaking any new ground with Hard Feelings but they are showing that they can write one hell of a pop-punk record, and that in itself is very impressive in this ever-growing scene.
The album roars out of the gates with the title track, a minute-long barn burner of a song that sets the mood for the rest of the record. “Walk Away” follows, and provides the highlight of the album. Propelled by an infectious hook and featuring vocalist Nick Trask at the top of his game, this track is a shining example of how far the band has come.
The next three tracks, “Twenty Seven,” “Nightmares” and “Arrows Crossed” are all fairly straightforward songs, although somewhat formulaic. They show the band adding a bit more aggression to the mix, all while keeping the highly melodic hooks and choruses. The combination of these two ends up working well, especially in “Arrows Crossed.”
Hard Feelings stumbles a bit with “Landslide” and “Because Heaven Knows.” The former is brought down by a clunky chorus while the latter wastes one of Trask’s best vocal performances with a track that comes across as bland and drags on. But the band gets back on the right track with “Pull Me Out,” which sounds reminiscent of With The Punches‘ latest album. It also encapsulates a key theme of the album with lines like “If home is where the heart is/Then my heart is never home/I’ve learned to come to terms/and grow into my own.”
The sound of the entire album can be boiled down into the last three tracks. “Homewrecker” storms off and takes the listener on a sonic whirlwind but never loses its way. “Final Thoughts” is the most upbeat, poppy track, but works very well with the energy it gives off. Closer “Need I Remind You” ends things with a bang, utilizing female backup vocals to add another dimension to the sound and concluding with the scathing line “I’m gonna use this time to forget you/Because I wish that I never met you/I wrote this to let you know/That I’m better off on my own.”
One of the best things about Hard Feelings is that the band never lose their footing in their melodic sound. A lot of pop-punk bands can drift into a heavier sound just for the sake of being heavy, but Major League stay firmly planted in their specific sound. While this record breaks no new ground in the scene, it is a solid throwback and highlights Major League’s strengths.