When Like Pacific released Distant Like You Asked, it was 2016, when you couldn’t move for pop-punk bands being positioned as the “next big thing”. Naturally, these Canadians were among those to be thrust into that ultimately fruitless position, and like so, so many of their peers at the time, there wasn’t a whole lot of evidence to back up such spurious claims. Their debut was okay, sure, but amid the floods of bands doing exactly the same thing (namely pop-punk that tried to vamp up its hardcore edges), there wasn’t anything special or that really stood out. Given how quickly Like Pacific seemed to sink with the rest of the year’s pop-punk jetsam, it’s honestly a minor miracle that they’re back at all.
But here they are, and on In Spite Of Me, it’s like they never left. Seriously, this could’ve been released back in 2016 and no one would’ve batted an eyelid, such is the lack of progression that’s been made here since their debut. That’s not exactly new in pop-punk – bands get by on such blatant rehashes time and time again and rarely ever get pulled up on it – but when compared to the extent that similarly derivative, uninspiring acts have evolved into genuinely excellent prospects (Trash Boat being chief among them), Like Pacific seem to have been left floundering in stasis for the last two years. And sure, that won’t be an issue for some, but with pop-punk where so many bands are vying for that coveted top spot, wanting something that even attempts to go the extra mile isn’t out of the question, and In Spite Of Me is not that album in any way, shape or form.
It’s not as if Like Pacific are without merit either, because that’s certainly not the case. The biggest asset is definitely Jordan Black’s vocals, with excellent modulation to capture a sense of loss and cathartic tackling of one’s own self-worth through some of the most effective pop-punk screams in some time, as well as the potential to hit some bracing hooks on the title track and Had It Coming. What’s more, there’s no extraneous polish or overwrought bells and whistles; for the darker, more aggressive reality that this album is grounded in, Like Pacific are plenty capable of holding their own.
But other than that, In Spite Of Me doesn’t have much to work with, because among the bigger pop-punk picture, not one element stands out or paints Like Pacific as an entity that could suitably rise to the top of the pile on their own. As inessential as Distant Like You Asked was, this one is virtually interchangeable with it, rounding up every trope The Story So Far normalised on Under Soil And Dirt and fashioning them into something no less tired. Tracks like The Spring and Admittance could potentially be workable, but amongst the hardcore posturing to really hammer home how vigorous this is meant to be and the double-time drums (yes, double-time drums in pop-punk in 2018), it’s indicative of a band putting off evolution to stick with and replay what they know. Even if it was catchy there’d be something to latch on to, but there’s hardly a moment on In Spite Of Me that doesn’t seep together with little to no definition.
And at the end of the day, all that really does is show how limited of a band Like Pacific really are. They’ve never been the scene’s shining lights or anything, but the profound weaknesses they displayed when the onus was on them to do something great haven’t gone away; if anything, they’re more blatant than ever. And in the long run, that’s going to hurt them, especially if they don’t find a way to up their game, and soon. There’s only so many chances a band can get before people lose interest, and Like Pacific’s are dwindling at an alarming rate.
For fans of: The Story So Far, Knuckle Puck, Trash Boat
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘In Spite Of Me’ by Like Pacific is released on 27th July on Pure Noise Records.