To some extent, Misser will probably always be known as “that side project featuring members of Transit and This Time Next Year“, which is kind of a shame because the band allows for members Tim Landers and Brad Wiseman a straight-forward approach to pop punk, resulting in music that is easily up to ‘main project’ standards. With Transit’s most recent album seeing the band exploring new territories (for better or for worse- I’m not going to take sides), and This Time Next Year being one of the many pop punk bands that heavily leaned on the pop aspect of the genre, it makes sense that Landers and Wiseman would use Misser as an outlet to express a more “traditional” (in a manner of speaking) pop punk sound- something that is evident all over the band’s newest EP, Distancing.
I should specify that when I say “traditional” sounding pop punk, I don’t mean that Misser has suddenly shifted gears and started playing pop punk like it’s 1992 again (an era of the genre that I’m very fond of). Distancing is still very much rooted in the same ground as the new wave of pop punk bands that have sprouted within the last decade or so. The instrumentation is par for the course- nothing particularly groundbreaking but still played competently enough that there’s nothing too jarring or distracting. But let’s face it: pop punk has never really been known for standout musicianship, it’s all about the hooks. And boy, Misser sure delivers on the hooks. Throughout the five songs on Distancing, Misser brings their A-game on crafting choruses that are easy to sing along and are likely to get stuck in your head after a listen or two. From the opener “Goddamn Salad Days” through to the penultimate track “Alone, Die” the band walks the line of melodic punk without ever venturing too far into the realm of pop. The final song, “Slow It Down // Write it Out” does exactly what the title states, ending the EP with the obligatory mid-tempo song that so many bands write these days. It’s not an awful song but after following tunes like “Infrared” and “Burn Out”, it’s a wonder why the band didn’t want to end things with a bang.
Other than the choruses, the thing that really makes Misser stick out above the rest is the band’s dual vocal style. Both Landers and Wiseman take a more aggressive approach to singing than the standard vocal delivery in modern pop punk, sounding closer to acts like Polar Bear Club or Such Gold than either of the members’ main projects (or has Misser become Wiseman’s main project given the current status of This Time Next Year?). In a scene that has been overwhelmed with bands trying to recreate the nasally singing of New Found Glory’s Jordan Pundik, it’s refreshing to hear vocals that don’t sound like the singer’s throat found its way into his nostrils.
I don’t really keep it a secret that I’m not overly fond of this whole “realist / Defend Pop Punk” scene. All too often I find that the bands decide to play up their pop aspects and never really utilize the punk side of things to the point of it barely even resembling ‘pop punk’ and becoming much more of a generic pop rock sound. I’d much rather listen to bands like The Dopamines or Teenage Bottlerocket instead any day of the week. However, if more modern pop punk sounded like Misser, I don’t think I would mind it as much. Kudos, boys. Here’s to hoping that the band won’t get lost in the shuffle of other projects.