Make room on your playlist, guys. Better Than Never have released an EP that’s ready to take up some space in your earphones. At a time when UK pop punk has never been so strong, another band is clawing its way above their peers to prove why they deserve some of the ever crowded spotlight, and this time it’s Oxford’s Better Than Never.
Perhaps it’s the early 2000’s in me, but I god-damn love duel vocalists, especially when they’re interwoven between three driven guitars. So in December when BTN released their 5 track EP ‘Head Under Water’, I was anticipating some good old throw backs. Thankfully, my hunger for duel-vocal deliciousness was satisfied with a sample of what these boys are capable of.
The record seems to draw from various parts of the genre to create a vibrant and culminated effort that should bring them a newl fan base and make sure their name is uttered in conversations about “who’s next to break out.” The EP has an opener that feels like a Real Friends rhythm guitar section that then kicks it up a notch to a more familiar pop punk gear, and it’s that familiarity that plays to their strengths. Both singles released from the record, “Learning to Swim” and “Dreamland Ain’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be” are well written, melodic driven and chorus heavy, with the capabilities to become signature songs. Their secret weapon however is the final track “Lowhill Lane” which is a wonderful amalgamation between Man Overboard and The Wonder Years circa 2011, which is the spark that lit the fire under pop punks current incarnation. The only criticism comes from the track “Forty Eight” which takes a bit of U-Turn into post hardcore / metal, and feels a little out of place on the record. To its credit, parts of it reminded me of From First To Last’s “Dear Diary…” but if Better Than Never want to pursue more tracks like this, they may be best releasing them on a separate record or left to side projects.
In a time when a lot of UK bands are breaking away from the traditional pop punk sound, Better Than Never seem to have embraced it to create something well crafted and catchy enough to shoulder barge their way to the front of the line. If this is any indication to go by, a full length record is something the band, and the scene, should be excited about.
You can listen and download “Head Under Water” on their band camp or spotify