What was once tied to the angsty adolescence of the mid-00’s has now come back full-circle to today’s youth: pop-punk. Olivia Rodrigo, Machine Gun Kelly, as well as “throwback” festivals (When We Were Young; Slam Dunk) have all indicated the growing resurgence and nostalgia for such a polarising genre – bolstered by the “it was never a phase” TikTok video virality. It’s of no great surprise then, that the YouTube-founded trio, Meet Me @ The Altar, signify their debut, pop-punk-glorifying LP, ‘Past // Present // Future’, to albeit tepid results.
Laden with self-affirming cries, front-woman Edith Victoria seeks to protect this genre and its audience at all costs: lambasting the naysayers “I just laugh ‘cause you’re never gonna say it to my face”, to charging that ”everything is possible” with the self-assured conclusion “I’ll be fine I’m the king of everything”, this album attempts to market itself as the newly-founded stand for pop-punk and those worshippers.
Having been tarnished numerous times throughout the course of history, if anything, this record shows no difference and marks no extra impact for the current scene and its resurgence. Courtesy of the blandly produced, overly-compressed vocal deliveries and guitar riffs from Jonas Brothers’ producer John Fields, the act all too easily fall into the inevitable trap of highly-structured song progressions backed by half-baked guitar solos on ‘Same Language’ and underwhelming chorus chants on ‘Kool’.
Whether it be the aforementioned “diss track” ‘Say It To My Face’ or album closer ‘King of Everything’, each rallying cry becomes watered down in the muddied pop-punk pool in their overbearing attempt to become the next radio-friendly Pink or Avril Lavigne. Moreover, the album quickly becomes muddled in its narrative: part-self consolation (“I think I’m the worst/Criticise everything ‘til it hurts”), part-heartbreak (“We tried for that “happy ever after” I guess we never even mattered”), part-angsty wallowing (“it isn’t rocket science, life isn’t meant to be so hard”) with only offering a modicum of self-determination and progression at its core.
Where such acts of their pop-punk heyday encouragingly evolved to greener pastures, most notably Paramore, Meet Me @ The Altar remain in the turgid fields of their bland predecessors on ‘Past // Present // Future’. For better or for worse, the sound of pop-punk’s resurgence remains affirmative if, at the very least, much like Groundhog Day.
Words: Oliver Corrigan