It’d probably be right to say that the majority of bands in rock today come out of the UK and the USA. Canada and Australia are up there too. But the rest of the world has been gradually exporting more and more fresh guitar-based talent in the last few years, be it Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! from France or Crossfaith from Japan. But now it’s Austria’s turn with Viennese pop-punk five-piece Escape Artists. And sophomore mini-album Never Die is definitely a blast from the past, with blink-esque riffs and singer Pia Glasl’s voice reminiscent of, well, any female-fronted band from the early noughties.
Most songs on Never Die positively burst with youthful energy due to contributions from guitarists Georg Glasl and Matthias Fellinger. Although there’s nothing too intricate offered and basic chords are the main staple of the record, there’s something there that tugs the corners of your mouth upwards. Singer Pia also has a great range, and there’s something wise sounding behind the uplifting clichés she regurgitates here.
But the clichés are just a bit too dated for a current audience. There isn’t really anything like it out there right now, and this album makes it obvious why because of how simple it all is. Because of all this, the many attempts the quintet, especially Pia, make to be ringleaders just lack conviction. Letters From Above and Voices, the two ballads on Never Die, sound plastic and void of emotion. The latter opens with xylophone over acoustic guitar, and it’s just funny how out of place it is on the record.
Make My Way, the fifth song of the seven, is the only total banger on the whole album, which is sad considering the talent of the vocalist. But the instrumentalists using everything they’ve clearly learned from Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and Green Day CDs is massively overshadowed on Make My Way by a bit of innovation and a more empowering vibe. And raspy growls from Georg Glasl in the background really give this track the body the rest of the album needs. But the majority of tracks are like guppies in a shark tank compared to the considerably bulkier pop punk of today.
There are parts of efforts like the tenacious Next Generation and My Safe that do work in a more “remember how great it was when bands did this?” sense of nostalgia, but nothing actually feels like it would work today. It’s clear a lot of work has gone into this album from the optimistic lyrics, but it’s all just too straightforward to truly care about. Maybe this would have worked ten years ago, but it sure as hell doesn’t now.
For fans of: The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Flyleaf, blink-182
Words by Georgia Jackson
‘Never Die’ by Escape Artists is released on 22nd January.