It’s always interesting discovering a band that’s unsigned, and essentially seeing their talent and potential before a majority of the public eye has the chance. Montana-based pop-punk band Shellshock Lullaby let their potential shine through with their new EP Shades of Grey, which was mixed and mastered by Stephen Hawkes.
When the first track “A Formal Introduction” begins to play, it does a good job of tricking the listener into thinking the feel of the EP is going to be much different than we anticipated. Given that SSL is labeled as a pop-punk band, the first track gives us the impression that they shifted their efforts to a more indie or even acoustic folk style. However, this initial thought quickly changes after the second track begins to play.
When “Shades of Grey” begins to play, pop-punk fans begin to get the components they’re looking for within the genre: quicker tempos and pop-influenced vocal styles. One thing I initially noticed is the similarity in style between lead vocalist Russ Nelson and the lead vocalist Zaq Zrust of the Minnesota-based band And We Danced. The lyrics involve a somewhat spiteful feel, despite the pop-influenced vocal style. The track has a very cool ending, with Nelson singing “take a minute watch you self destruct and fade away/ everyday you’ll see me laughing” followed by very catchy melodic guitar riffs that conclude it.
On a lyrical standpoint, “The Look in Your Eyes” is a track that stands out for me. This song once again brings up the idea of self-destruction much like “Shades of Grey” touches on. Within this track, it comes out with the lyrics “creating more disaster/ self-destruction is all you know.” It also does a good job of incorporating catchy instrumentals, using more double bass in the drums towards the end. The lyrics that stand out the most in this song are “your fingers on the trigger/ the safety’s on inside your mind.”
When the concluding track “Epilogue” begins to play, it seems to pick up exactly where “A Formal Introduction” left off. The EP was essentially designed like a sandwich in this sense, with two very similar-sounding tracks with no lyrics creating the foundation for the virtual bread in this hypothetical sandwich. Cohesiveness is something I typically find impressive within an album or EP, and needless to say I appreciated the structure of Shades of Grey in that respect.
Shellshock Lullaby does a great job of putting their name out there through the medium of this EP. The seven tracks are something for an artist to be proud of. Shades of Grey seems to end not long after it starts with how short the tracks are, but that’s to be expected of EPs. It’s a shame there aren’t additional tracks added to create an LP, because the ones present have many strengths within them. However, the EP fills its duty by giving pop-punk listeners some catchy tunes to fill their music fix.