If there’s one thing the ever-touring punk road dogs Off With Their Heads are known for, it’s that they’re one hundred percent pure punk rock without any glossy frills or pretentious bullshit. Just straight-up punchy power chords (approximately 4-5 per song) and hammering snare hits and rumbling base notes and a totally punk-rock-gruff-grunt bellowing all over it. That’s it. Same goes for their latest record Home. There’s no trumpet or violin section, no female guest vocalists, no god damn fucking breakdowns or lukewarm falsetto melodies – the band’s third full length is almost humourlessly true to the punk side of things, cleansed of everything that is remotely evocative of recent punk anomalies like smoothened pop punk operas or happy sappy hardbrocore, because fuck that, nobody wants to chug beers and manly talk about feelings with Patrick Stump or dudes with neon headbands anyway.
Yeah that’s right, Home is (again) a deeply heartfelt and honest affair for vocalist Ryan Young, tackling issues that come along with the endless touring sessions this band is known and loved for and shouting them directly and unambiguously to everyone who can relate, empathize, or at least growl along while lifting beers and/or fists in the air. The words are simple and oftentimes blunt like a truckload of gravel, as in the passive-aggressive apology of “Nightlife” (“I hope this explains my problem to you, because I feel like this every night”) or the yearning remembrance in the album’s rusty ballad “Stolen Away” (“the road that brought us together has taken me away from you”), but the raucous and passionate delivery combined with the abundance of energetic and infectious hooks forges 13 full blown punk anthems that simply kick ass. When “Start Walking”‘s two-chord verse ignites into the song’s last chorus, the fast-paced chord changes in the intro of “Nightlife” are crowned with a belling guitar bending before introducing the soaring lead guitar, or the incredibly catchy two-part refrain of “Janie” kicks in, you will struggle to keep your limbs in check and not start to yell “Fuck Yeah” with a raised fist, scaring the shit out of your co-workers in the office.
When all of this sounds kind of familiar for someone who heard the band’s two previous albums, it’s because not really much has changed on their third album. There are the fast-paced punk rock melodies, the head whipping mid-tempo rangers and enough hopeless anxiety to get you seriously depressed if it weren’t for those awesome sing-alongs and whoa-whoa’s. Still, Off With Your Heads made some tweaks to their sound, especially in the two slower numbers on the record, “Don’t Make Me Go” and “Stolen Away.” With clean singing (!) and an increased focus on captivating songwriting, the former is a soothing alt rock experiment and a brisk change of pace, while almost-closer “Stolen Away”‘s gurgling desperation may get a little bit grating till the end. And yet, despite being almost a carbon copy of its predecessor In Desolation, Home is a record that will stick with you for a long time – hell, it will even grow on you with every spin. All you have to do is to accept the fact that one of the genre’s most devoted bands continues to play pure punk rock without gimmicks – just guitars, drums, and melody. So don’t miss out.