The “Recommended if you like” for Washington Square Park is Man Overboard, while they have also been compared to The Movielife and Jimmy Eat World by other reviewers. I would have to say that these are probably the most accurate RIYL’s that will ever be made. The only band to add would be The Wonder Years and even some older Taking Back Sunday. In their three-song EP entitled Simple with No Explanation, they become the definition of GOOD pop-punk music, encompassing every band that is positively recognized within the genre.
From the first song, “Material Hell,” they draw you in by using catchy guitar leads and poppy, upbeat drums that are sure to keep you alert, as well as Max Rauch’s (former drummer of Tourmaline) catchy melodies with vocals that sound eerily similar to Four Year Strong. Also, where it has become quite popular amongst bands to get crazy with song titles, Washington Square Park has made it easy to infer what the song matter is about by correctly labeling their songs. “Material Hell” is about getting caught up in all the – you guessed it – material distractions, and how that is frustrating to those who are not so easily distracted. Although the music is poppy, the lyrics are much more punk-based.
The EP has a lyrical theme that seems to go from out to in. The first song is about America, the second song is about a person Rauch knows, and the third song is about himself. These three songs come from three different perspectives. The first song shows the classic punk attitude (hating materialism in America and trying to influence people away from corporations and toward Goodwill); the second song shows a more punk influence from older punk bands that may have inspired them; the third song lyrically is about finding explanations for faith: “I’ll swallow my pride/keep pushing until I’m where I want to be.”
The first and second song differ in that “Material Hell” starts the EP out with more ‘pop’ than ‘punk,’ but the second song remedies that. If you finished the first song thinking this was not for you, “Open-Ended” may alter that discontented opinion. Filled with punk beats and guitar riffs, the chorus (another comparison) takes up more than half of the song, leaving the title completely evident by the time it ends. The final song encompasses an older Taking Back Sunday feel, with the guitar keeping it interesting and worthwhile by not being simply power chords, and sounding even somewhat like Switchfoot in the chorus.
It is very easy to make this genre sound messy or cliche, but in three songs, Simple with No Explanation proves that Washington Square Park knows how to do it right. The songs are catchy and filled with talent put to good use. The lead guitar stands out as a key contributor that could alter the mood of the song, and the vocals are very well-fitted for the pop-punk feel, proving this band’s lasting value.