Sally Draper, punk rock from Northern New Jersey, are back with How Is That Fair?, a follow-up to 2017’s Does Too. This album finds this duo continuing to explore a variety of punk rock styles in a chaotic mixture, with a little help from some friends.
How is That Fair? opens with “The War on Memes” a track that is strongly reminiscent of early Against All Authority. Blisteringly wild punk with a upstroked ska breakdown and an anti-authoritarian sneer. “The president tweets while Florida drowns, The president tweets while Vegas bleeds” they “preach to the choir” over wild guitars. This aggressive chaotic punk with catchy hooks is also on display in the next song “Unconfident in Shorts”.
It’s in the third song we start to see other influences creep into this album. “No One Writes About Baltimore (except David Simon)” has an infectious sugary sweet guitar lick that is punctuated by a raspy vocal delivery. The dichotomy between the two has a distinct early Fake Problems feel but with the distortion cranked up. This comparison gets revisited later on the album with “Luxury Mattress”
From there Sally Draper brings in an Against Me! vibe with “Moral Compass” which seamlessly drops into “Warning Sign” and “The Time I chose to go to Prague”. The first is drum heavy with a cleaner guitar delivery that is more akin to the White Crosses era AM!. “Warning Sign” has a droning guitar sound over a marching drum beat with a deeply intrinsic vocal scope. Which gives way to “The Time I Chose to go to Prague” a slow jam which tones down the chaotic vocal presentation and gives us a more jangly rock tune.
The concern with this album is the inconsistency in the vocal delivery. It is perfectly suited for the wild chaos of “The War on Memes” and “Unconfident in Shorts”, it delivers an emotional wrench in “Warning Sign” but it seems a bit forced in “The Time I Chose to Go to Prague” and does not quite hit with enough emotional intensity for the album closer “I’ll See You in My Dreams”.
It took me a few spins of How is That Fair? to get a real sense of what Sally Draper is attempting to accomplish, an intersection of chaotic anger and introspective musings where it is impossible to tell if it’s the singer or the instruments that are on the verge of a breakdown. I feel like the band is on the right track in terms of creating their unique take on punk. There are just a few inconsistencies that keep this album from truly reaching its potential.