Maybe I’m just biased towards bands that sound like Paramore, but there’s just something I love about We Are the In Crowd. Whether it’s their more-pop-than-punk sound, their frontwoman’s spirited vocals, or their fun-at-heart personality, I’ve been hooked since Guarantee to Disagree came out nearly four years ago. Still, critically speaking, the quintet has always lacked that little ‘something’ to separate them from the pack of pop-rock doppelgangers. They haven’t taken many risks, and while it’s paid off in terms of popularity and show attendance, they just needed to take that extra step to stand out from the crowd — to really make them the ‘in-crowd.’
Weird Kids takes that extra step. Not only is this We Are the In Crowd’s catchiest effort to date, but it finds the band mixing up their formula a bit to keep things interesting — and they demonstrate mountains of maturity as well. The songs very much stress their melodic fusion. Piano, vocal harmonies, chanted vocals, and well-timed guitars are layered to create a thick base, but a poppy enough outer shell helps balance the record’s substance with attractiveness. This mixture makes for a strong set of high-spirited punk-pop songs.
Opener “Long Live the Kids” is reminiscent of Mayday Parade as strings and piano eventually turn into a full-blown rock song — something the band hasn’t pulled off until now. Tay Jardine shows her range as a vocalist, bouncing between highs and lows as she drives the music from verse to chorus and beyond. She complements the instrumentation better than ever with her somewhat soothing, somewhat angsty style. This continues to show in the red-hot “The Best Thing (That Never Happened)”, a slice of punk-pop heaven that may just be the most memorable track the band has ever written. “Manners” is more back-to-basics, with Jardine and guitarist Jordan Eckes singing back and forth.
Once again though, the band brings out their versatility as a unit in “Come Back Home”, a placating ballad whose true colors emerge from behind calming guitars and hand claps. The album continues to balance a strong mix of fast and slow tracks, with fast and slow moments throughout each track showing excellent dynamics. Sometimes, too, all it takes is a fun summer jam to get the job done, and “Remember (To Forget You)” and “Reflections” are the perfect sing-alongs for the coming months. But when the band isn’t making catchy rock songs, they’re playing to the senses, and not only is “Windows In Heaven” the softest song in the band’s catalogue, it’s by far their most candid offering as well.
Really the biggest complaint with Weird Kids is its short length. That, and the band is still very much comparable to the likes of Paramore and Hey Monday, but that’s a bit inevitable. What really makes We Are The In Crowd stand out after all these years is their unique charisma, and they are able to bring out each of their sides in these ten tracks of pop, alt-rock, punk, and pop-punk. Their fresh energy and songwriting approach makes a previously generic sound come across as much more interesting. Plus, this record is easily the band’s catchiest to date, while also being their most seasoned and sound effort. It’s about time these guys (and girl) took their place alongside the best bands in the genre, as thanks to Weird Kids, they’re showing that they’re not going to settle anytime soon.
Pop-Rock/Pop-Punk | Hopeless Records