1994 On Repeat
In the past 10 years, many bands have attempted to emulate the original, actually talented, emo bands of the ’90s, often with very little success– normally ending up the butt of a joke about Hot Topic and sideways haircuts, but occasionally a band figures out how to bring that sound into the 21st century correctly. Combining that old school Brand New-esque sound with a solid post-hardcore twist, Maps for Travelers has released one of the few truly enjoyable and creative punk records of the year so far with their newest album, Change Your Name. Matching strained but clean vocals with sometimes downright anguished screaming, Change Your Name has managed to cross a number of punk subgenres smoothly and will appeal to a wide array of listeners.
Change Your Name opens with one of the strongest songs on the record, “Good Life,” which showcases the band’s ability to make some beautiful, if a little discordant, harmonies, and blend different vocal styles in a way that many bands are unable. Maps For Travelers also takes on slower, “punk ballad” styles that are completely reminiscent of early ’90s emo and pop punk with songs like “Swoon,” a change of pace that gives the record some variety. Change Your Name ends on a perfectly somber and droning note, with the track “They’re Learning Fast” that makes you immediately want to restart the record and take that time machine back to 1994 again.
Maps for Travelers cites Cave In, American Football and even Quicksand among their influences and fans of any of those groups will easily find a new record thrown into rotation with Change Your Name. More serious post-hardcore listeners, 12-year old kids fresh off a Warped Tour buzz, 35-year old sad dads missing the Get Up Kids days of yore, and even screamo fans with snakebites will find something that they like with this record. And these days that’s getting harder and harder for a band to achieve. It may not be the album of the year, but Change Your Name is definitely one of the more solid releases in 2013 and hopefully we can expect more of the same from them in the future.