I spent my weekend back in my hometown with my brother, his girlfriend, and dog to visit my parents. It was a great weekend, don’t get me wrong, but I was exhausted and full of anxiety when I got back home. I took care of the exhaustion with a nap but the anxiety still seems to be reigning supreme. If you haven’t caught on, new music is the new way I take care of my anxiety since live music isn’t an option right now so I skimmed through my list of albums to review and landed on Carpool’s ‘Erotic Nightmare Summer’.
As soon as “Cruel Intentions” started pumping through my speakers, I was in love. The perfectly imprefect gang vocals took me back to the golden days of pop-punk. Once the gang vocals drop out and the band really kicks in, you get that taste of nostalgia that I am constantly looking for. Full of angst, emotion and aggression all while keeping a sense of calm and conviction takes over and I know that this band is going to be a new favorite of mine.
“Cruel Intentions” has a harsh ending but “Whiskey & Xanax” picks up the vibe right away and in the perfect way. It’s a little The Front Bottoms mixed with some old school The Early November all capped off with a bow of early 00’s pop-punk and a sprinkle of Vundabar. This track was an instant favorite of mine. From the lyrics to the instrumentation to the song structure… this song just hit me perfectly and was an instant stand out on this album.
Third is “The Salty Song (Erotic Nightmare Summer)” which brings the sense of aggression to the forefront. Don’t mistake those words. This is not an angry song or a chaotic track. There’s just something a bit more raw about this one that makes you feel your emotions regardless of if you can relate to the lyrics or not. My anxiety seemed to melt away with this track and I couldn’t have been more thankful for that effect but it also made this song fly by and, before I knew it, “Beauty School Dropout” had replaced the track. The guitar part in “Beauty School Dropout” is stellar. It had me stuck. I honestly couldn’t hear anything else outside of the guitars. The pattern, the rhythm, the tone– it all gives Carpool an edge over other bands in this genre today.
“Driving Under The Skinfluence” slows things down a little bit and seems to expand on that The Early November vibe that I was getting on some of the previous tracks. There’s something sweet about this one while still having the raw emotion that truly puts Carpool in a pool all of their own. Just like “The Salty Song (Erotic Nightmare Summer)” had me lost in the feeling of my anxiety falling to the wayside, “Driving Under the Skinfluence” has this strange introspective feeling to it that had me completely zoning out throughout this song while not ignoring it. Don’t understand what I’m saying? Honestly, I don’t know how to write it but, when you listen to this song, I think you’ll get it.
A tuning dial sound kicks off “Come Thru Cool (Punk Ass)”. That sound is replaced with a distorted guitar sound before this band really seems to let loose. This track is more aggressive than the previous songs but not in your face or offensive. It’s actually another great “release” song that makes you just let go of whatever you have been holding onto throughout the day. Some of the lyrics of this one really stuck with me and I listened to it a few times before moving onto “Toronto” as to not miss a single phrase or word.
Things clean up a bit for “Toronto” which brings a very happy-go-lucky vibe to this ten-song album. This is the type of track that makes you want to be surrounded by your friends awhile sharing a couple of cold drinks. It’s just fun, boppy, and a little bit poppy. It’s the perfect blend of sunshine, smiles, and comraderie. Just when I was getting lost in the world of smiles that “Toronto” took me to, “Liquor Store Employee (Old Friend)” catapulted me into a world of introspective heartbreak. There are moments of beauty sprinkled throughout this album but this track really slows things down and lays out heartbreak on a silver platter just like any OG pop-punk band used to do in the day. Even when the beat pops and the vocals become a bit more stern, the heartbreak is real and the lyrics hit you right in the feels.
“East Coast West Coast” instantly reminded me of the band Dollar Signs which is a gold star for them. Again, the vocals are perfectly imperfect like they are at other moments throughout this album and that gives this band just a more personal feel than other over-produced groups in this genre. Emo pop-punk music is supposed to be raw and emotional and Carpool nails that especially with this track.
“Stolen Self Help (I Like You)” closes out this album in the perfect way. Again, the band nails it with the lyrics on this track and the way with which said lyrics is presented is pure gold. This track is an exclamation mark on a perfect album and had me excited to go back and listen to this album again to see what all I missed.
My Favorite Track(s): “Whiskey & Xanax”; “Driving Under The Skinfluence”; “Come Thru Cool (Punk Ass)”; “Liquor Store Empoyee (Old Friend)”
For Fans Of: Old School Pop-Punk; Feelings; New School Pop-Punk
Daydream-ability: 8 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Both cats slept upstairs
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 8 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 9.8 out of 10
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