EP Review: Habits – “Train Wrecks”

Habits play a melodic brand of punk rock that draws subtly on the post-hardcore of Hot Water Music. A decent argument could be made for them sounding like The Downtown Struts too, and it’s not an argument I’d have the nerve to challenge. Honestly, Habits sound a little like a melting pot of punk, and that’s okay. Train Wrecks is their EP, and on it they explore their tight combination of catchy songwriting and interesting fretwork thoroughly without boring the audience.

Train Wrecks is only five songs, but says a lot with that it’s got. It provides an excellent sample package of Habits’ sound in a small enough to dose to leave you wanting more. I wouldn’t go so far as to call their sound original, but I do believe it is their own. We’ve all heard melodic punk with post-hardcore influences before, but Habits unique take on the style is striking enough that picking them out of a musical line-up would be effortless. There’s a jangliness that hearkens back to the swagger of in-your-face rock ‘n roll present in their sound that is seldom heard outside of bands specifically channelling it. The rhythmic and surprisingly riffy fretwork that dominates their instrumental sound is oftentimes inspired– the trilling bridge of “Shoot To Wound” comes to mind, an impressively ear-catching change of pace that simultaneously brings forth a darker musical tone and introduces overt dynamism to make a song that much more memorable.

“Far To Fall” opens Train Wrecks with a bouncy guitar lead, before the vocalist rawly intones: “walk these streets all over the city, I can’t find a place to call my own.” Habits’ vocals aren’t so much gravelly as they are weary. There’s a worldliness to the grit that betrays a sense of longing, and it’s because of this convincing vocal performance that so much of Train Wrecks feels so damn real. The aforementioned “Shoot To Wound” opens with a certain reggae feel, reminding me of some of the Clash’s more Jamaican influenced work. The chorus is a catchy, but passionate work where its last line (“kiss me goodnight”) provides the launching point for the tremolo picked pre-bridge that might be my favorite part of Train Wrecks.

“Indestructible” is a catchier song with a galloping guitar rhythm and a chorus made mostly of its song title. Fortunately, this doesn’t rob the song of its melodicism and actually gives the song a spiritual connection to that of early punk. Unfortunately, the song feels superfluous no matter what feelings it drums up. Train Wrecks is for the most part made up of strong material, so a weaker song like this sticks out like a sore thumb.

On the other hand, final track “Anchors Aweigh” is some of the best Train Wrecks has to offer. There is so much going on this song, that it’s almost impossible not to get swept away in its flow. It opens with a distant, forlorn melody whistled with the backing of an acoustic guitar, then launches into distorted guitars with enough treble to bite. The melodies on “Anchors Aweigh” are less sticky than some of the other songs, but it actually works better for this fact. That’s not to say they aren’t catchy, because they are most definitely just that, but the hooks are more subtle this time around and allow your focus your ears towards the vocal performance itself, sung with stunning emotion and energy and just as worthy of attention.

Habits surprised me with just how they striking Train Wrecks can be. It has so many great elements working in tandem that it’s hard not to be taken aback by how uniquely this band’s influences translate to their music. Train Wrecks may not be powerful enough to create die-hards, but it suggests the potential to do so. A world with good, free music is a great one, check it out here.

3.5/5 Stars

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