It’s been a whirlwind few years for pop rock. The genre, which is often tarnished or misrepresented by the inclusion of ‘pop’, has seen a whole host of bands pass through its ranks and generally go in two clear directions – to the top, or in the complete opposite direction. One band who are sincerely hoping that the top is a place we’ll find them in come second album syndrome is trio Against the Current, whose debut album In Our Bones comes out next week (20 May).
The record opens on Running With the Wild Things, which is undoubtedly one of the catchiest pop rock songs to surface in quite some time. From the off, it’s very clear exactly what Chrissy Costanza and her band (Will Ferri and Dan Gow) have in mind for the twelve song journey they’re about to continue embarking on. In Our Bones is an album all about being young, wild and free whilst not giving too much of a shit about what other people think. Furthermore, it’s an album which challenges societal norms and puts them into a context which enables you to understand what Against the Current feel about strongly. “You can’t keep us down forever” sings Costanza on the aforementioned album opener, before singing of escape and “running with the wild things”. Chrissy has one hell of a voice, with Gow and Ferri in tow to hold her back and keep the music at a level which prospers as much as it hits hard. Following track Forget Me Now sees a swirling synth melody accompanied by lilting guitar jabs, both of which underpin Costanza’s captivating vocals alongside powerful percussion. It’s all very basic, but that’s something you’d come to expect from a band who lean so heavily towards the pop spectrum. Forget Me Now bears resemblance to Katy Perry’s sickly sweet pop bangers just as much as it begs for sweaty teens at Warped Tour to stick their hands in the air, and that can only be a good combination.
Chasing Ghosts slows down the pace slightly, utilizing echoing guitar lines and electronic percussion. “We used to have a light, but now it’s too dark to shine” sings Costanza on the track’s opening line, with its chorus making way for a lighters-in-the-air moment perfect for getting lost in the sweet summer air. Just like most tracks on the record, Chasing Ghosts lends itself perfectly to the summer, as opposed to wintertime. “I need somebody I can hold” claims Costanza during the second chorus, sounding delicate in her confident vocal delivery. One More Weekend is the first proper ‘party’ track on the record, building up at a subtle pace before everything explodes into sugercoated pop madness. A jangly guitar line underpins the verses, with Costanza’s vocals more prominent than ever before on the record. Title track In Our Bones utilizes acoustic guitars during the intro, presenting itself as the first stripped back ballad on the record. “We’re gonna be electric” declares Costanza, later on singing of a “force you shouldn’t mess with”. It’s the kind of song which will likely bring fans together and unite a fanbase (which finds its roots in the Tumblverse) that stretches all the way from alternative-loving emo’s through to FM Radio pop lovers. The track doesn’t go very far as it progresses, rather keeping hold of its core elements and expanding on their possibilities.
New release Young & Relentless picks up the pace once again, with Costanza singing of sleepless nights, runway lights and London Calling. “We could be any place, anytime” she continues, with her vocals underpinned by run-of-the-mill guitar jabs and percussive bursts. Its chorus is extremely uplifting, with Costanza’s vocals soaring head and shoulders above the masses. If there’s any track on the record which perfectly sums up what Against the Current stand for, then it’s this one. The rebellious Runaway fades in and swaggers along at an almost danceable pace, utilizing faster vocals and a “we don’t care what you say about us”-attitude. It’s a perfect demonstration of Against the Current’s intentions on In Our Bones, something which the band haven’t been afraid to further imply and infer throughout the whole record. Brighter slows down the record once again, with Costanza claiming that she doesn’t need a reason to set the world on fire. “Let’s burn a little bit brighter now” she declares, with subtle yet lilting synth strings intertwining under her smooth vocal tone. Wasteland goes down a more electronics-laden path, putting Costanza up on a pedestal as her vocals take the helm over a mix of jangly guitars and precise percussion. Ahead of the chorus, an artificial build-up leads into what almost sounds like a drop, yet eventually dies down and introduces the next verse. “It’s not a dream at all, it’s a freefall” claims Costanza.
Blood Like Gasoline introduces itself with vocals which resemble PVRIS’ Lynn Gunn, something even more evident in combination with its underpinning electronic drones. “My blood’s like gasoline” declares Costanza during the chorus, before everything speeds up by means of pulsating rhythms and sharp guitar jabs, both of which intertwine and collide throughout the track. Penultimate track Roses sounds like a trip down memory lane right from the very first note, with Costanza reminiscing past moments in her life before declaring that she’ll never grow old. “Everyone’s trying to help me move on” she continues, implying that the track’s lyrics find their roots in a potentially failed relationship. “I miss it all” she declares, throwing her roses away towards the end and directing herself towards album closer Demons. It’s a subtle, calm ending to an album which has been full of whirlwind emotions and surprises. Centring on a tightly-knit combination of percussion and synths, Demons eventually bubbles up and breaks into a positive finale which gives In Our Bones the hope-filled ending it deserves. Sure, most pop rock bands can be pretty predictable, but Against the Current have something special. They don’t stick to one formula which they regurgitate twelve times; rather, they take the core basics of pop rock and expand on them in various different manners. There’s definitely a bright future out there for Costanza, Gow and Ferri, that’s for sure.
In Our Bones comes out on 20 May via Fueled by Ramen.