Marshall Hawthorne’s raspy, throaty voice helped shape Springtime‘s self-titled demo last year that really impressed. His voices stresses and stretches to perfect their emo-punk indie gaze that honestly, only Bouncing Souls, could break the mold with. South Hill comes off as absorbing as ever and it’s clear they mean business.
They cook up their familiar magic with tracks like “South Hill” and “Here Now” which stumble into their cult following’s reasons for adoring them. Simple, catchy anthems with an unbridled pacey punk element to it. They possess the tools, skills and versatility to mix Tigers Jaw with Braid and furthermore, with grittier punk as they wield a similarly immense power in directness and cunning honesty. Concerning the chatter regarding the band, Hawthrone unintentionally provides a parallel as an alluring counterpart, breathy and fragile, for Bouncing Souls through a seemingly unending nervous breakdown that culminates in “Great Cop” – which buries neatly as a Fugazi homage with splendid punk needles stuck in. They pull it off well.
On songs like “Let Go”, they show that they know when to turn it on during the album, when to lay off, when to dress up the moment with a little riff or twinkle, and how to keep the album rhythmically moving with a flicker of tension. “Wait” creates a more dreamy, melodic energy to build on an already vibrant atmosphere via a more 90s emo post-rock mannerism. These songs are the less stressed, easier-going parts to make the record work as a whole, and while they’re comparative lulls amid the crushing weight of the more cathartically expressing materials on tap, they lend a lot in showing how desire can be a handicap. It makes for a well-rounded and occasionally outright breathtaking affair.
Come one and come all. South Hill is so short in five tracks that are barely 12 minutes long. But there’s a buffet of amazing punk to ingest in this undulating prose from Richmond’s magicians. There’s no buffer period in this hard hitter and springtime would have it no other way.