By Ryan Martin (@RyanMartin182)
It’s hard to classify Tigers Jaw as pop punk. The duo of Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins find a peaceful medium of bouncy drums and distorted guitars throughout. Guardian, the mid-way point of the album, finds the pop-punkers at their punkiest with yelps from Walsh and catchy power chords backed by some rapid-fire drums. Preceding Guardian, found Tigers Jaw doing what could only be classified as pop rock or the poppiest side of pop-punk. June is a summer anthem that sounds almost too summery and Escape Plan is an acoustic ballad that doesn’t have the same energy that they have previously captured on acoustic tracks like Never Saw It Coming off their self-titled album.
Tigers Jaw always sounded like an acoustic duo at their core. Walsh’s vocals sound at home when backed by an acoustic guitar as Collins harmonizes. Bullet is a perfect encapsulation of their acoustic roots. What starts out as an acoustic pop-punk track with soft vocals, slowly evolves into a fully fleshed out track with drums, keys, and a touch of distortion. While the softer side of Tigers Jaw is shown and appreciated, it’s nice to hear the band break out of their comfort zone with some fast-paced punk, like at the tail-end of the track Oh Time. Walsh’s vocals and Collins’s keys add a nice variation to what would be an average pop-punk outro. The same formula is repeated for the track Make It Up which highlights Walsh’s guitar work, sounding like a leftover Yellowcard track from the mid-2000’s, in the best possible way.
Collin’s contribution to spin is on full display on the track Same Stone, which sees her crooning over her keys with Walsh’s acoustic guitar and a timid drum beat. It’s a very mellow love ballad with gorgeous lyrics like “Revel in the afterglow / Love like ivy grows / You found me tangled deep / Now we’re drifting in this reverie / Reeling slowly”
spin is one of the softest pop-punk records to drop in quite some time. The Pennsylvania duo still sound more indie than pop-rock/pop-punk legends Paramore, but tiptoe across the line that distinguishes punk from pop; while still staying true to their roots. As a major label debut, spin doesn’t expand the band’s sound as much as it could have. While Walsh and Collins lost the rest of their bandmates years ago and are trying to continue the project as a duo, spin succeeds in the sense that the band sounds completely full as the duo. What fails is the repeated formula that Tigers Jaw has followed throughout all of their releases. Spin was a very safe move for the band to play, especially after losing the rest of the band. What could have been an impressive move forward for the duo, seems them standing in the same place they were, nearly a decade ago.