Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Remember that stretch of time in the mid-to-late ‘90s when pop-punk threatened to take over alternative radio.

The Projection - While You Were Out

The Projection
While You Were Out
Self-Released; 2012

Remember that stretch of time in the mid-to-late ‘90s when pop-punk threatened to take over alternative radio. Admittedly, it fought with faux-grunge, nu-metal, and rap-rock for airplay time, but it certainly held its own for several years. Green Day had broken free of its underground roots to release Nimrod, Blink-182 penned quasi-naughty tunes about not wanting to grow up, and MxPx sang about teenage politics, while Sum-41 was – well – Sum 41. It was good time to be angsty, revel in three-chord pop structures, and talk about relationships that sucked.

The Projection hearken from that time, as While Were You Out would definitely have been on my little brother’s Walkman for hours at a time as he rode bikes around the neighborhood, talked to girls on the phone, and mowed lawns for money. The guitars buzz along with swagger, while the lead vocals have that vintage punk sneer, but the guy has decent tenor pipes when he’s not snarling at his ex-girlfriend, his crappy boss, or someone else worthy of his ire. Then again, I’ve always been a fan of a rollicking rhythm section in a punk band – I want the tempo set to a frenetic gallop, and there will be hell to pay if it lets up or starts to flag.

On the whole, the punk tunes are zippy and straight-ahead, but the band has this curious penchant for alternative-ish bar-rock ballads in the middle third of the record that call to mind American Idiot-era Green Day. And just like Billie Joe and his buddies, it seems that The Projection wrote tracks like “Always Remember,” “Not A Day Goes By,” and “Cross The Line” in an attempt to show people that the group can write arena-ready, “important” rock songs that are bigger than just the punk world. Think of it as an aspiration for more than just being a member of the Vans Warped Tour for 2 or 3 summers in a row.

The strength of While You Were Out lies in the tight and crisp musicianship portrayed by The Projection. On one hand, the band’s material isn’t the most imaginative or original, but on the other hand, cuts like the title track, “Trying To Forget, “Florida,” “Rock Stars,” and “Your Song” evince a group pulling off a solid take on classic pop-punk tropes with an eye for bigger stages and a more grown-up sound. My bet is that the band keeps honing its songwriting chops, stretching its horizons, and refining its personal style.

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