Showoff has been hitting those high notes for ten years now, with previous releases under their belt and now deliver us Midwest Side Story. Success came quick to the band with their self-titled album doing very well. You would be forgiven for thinking the follow up, Wish You Were Here would tread a similar path but this was not the case. The band were entangled in a familiar story as the record company hit legal trouble, with the album gathering dust over the years unable to be heard. They can now blow the cobwebs off and get back to the pop-punk status they had initially had, and with Dodgeball Records they have a bit of security when your lead singer is the owner.
Midwest Side Story, then, delivers the same tried and tested formula that carried them on the crest of a wave around a decade ago, where the pop oriented punk sounds are played throughout the USA by the Internet generation.
Popular Kid kicks us off with the loner kid who finds solace and inspiration in their music, something I’m sure we can all associate with at times. It has all the isolated vocals, jangling guitar, drum solos and echoes you would expect, with drops in tempo lifting up to a crescendo finale as pop-punk should.
The band may have another crest of a wave to ride with the track Turn Out The Lights which most definitely ticks all the boxes for a pop-punk hit: it has the hooked chorus that would have any spotty spiky haired adolescent throwing themselves around. It’s what you would call “single material”, but first you would need to explain to the listeners what a single was.
The ability to bring the pace down to a near-ballad is evident in a few tracks here including Where Our Love Died, where Chris Messer’s vocal takes centre stage, hitting those high, lingering notes with polished precision using only lung and strum. A more rasping guitar throws you on a slightly different course with chords creating a melody that’s accompanied by Chris’s dulcet tones on Midwest Side Story (Better Off), it’s a more upbeat track with a driving tempo with a soft underbelly.
Showoff are not a band you would usually pin the classic punk badge onto in the UK, but the genre is diverse, global but also accessible. There is definitely an audience that will enjoy this, and while you may not be part of that audience and question its authenticity, punk is not a member’s only club that need you permission to enter.