Home Movies (formerly Stanley and the Search) are a Los Angeles pop punk band, similar to the current wave of bands like The Story So Far and State Champs. Their new record, Hell, is something that, in motive, should be appreciated. You can tell simply by the instrumentation that they are definitely trying to do something new with their sound, which is great because they’re in a genre that’s watered down and oversaturated with hundreds of cookie cutter bands. However, they don’t quite succeed to break the mold as much as they would hope.
Hell begins with its title track, a heavy, melodic post-hardcore tune that maintains a lot of energy while keeping a slower pace. That’s to be appreciated, although it gets kind of boring after a while, and the second song isn’t much different. “Faith and Folly” is similar in that it’s dark and heavy, and appears to be a rip on a person who uses religion as a way to inauthentically alleviate themselves of responsibility while putting the blame for negative situations onto other people. “How can you wear that cross on your skin/Is it belief that keeps you counting your sins?” The song isn’t bad, it just sounds so much like the first one that they run together a little too much. The EP’s middle track, “The Will of Fire,” is a change of pace and while for it starts as energetic and entertaining, it ends as essentially any other melodic hardcore song written by a pop punk band. “The Winds,” Hell’s acoustic piece, is a good precursor to the final track and while it sounds pretty generic at first listen, pulls a good change of pace for the whole of the release. While the lyrics could stand to be a bit less accusatory or allegorical across the release, they don’t hurt this track too much. “The Winds” was placed as a good introduction to the last track of the EP, “Fickle,” which is without a doubt the best song on Hell. It’s a super energetic, balls to the wall kind of melodic punk rock track that closes the release down slowly, leaving you wanting more. And that’s honestly how I feel.
Home Movies are not a bad band. They are incredibly tight as musicians and they’re not bad at forming songs. A lot of their music is very technical but in a way that’s sort of hidden in the song, so rather than focusing on it too much the listener is forced to just keep their mind on the song as a whole. That can be a good or a bad thing, as sometimes the technicalities are needed to make a song more gripping. But frankly, my problem with Home Movies, at least on this release, is they’re just not interesting enough. They could experiment with more instrumentally, and I’m not talking about how technical they are but how different parts of the song can be differentiated from each other. And they could probably put a little more effort into the lyrical and vocal aspects of their songs. I don’t want to overthink it, but as things stand now, I don’t feel like I have much reason to listen to them in place of their contemporaries.
While the release didn’t keep me on my toes much, this band is incredibly talented and I’ll be one of the first to listen to their next release when it comes out. This one didn’t really do it for me, but they’ll most likely get there soon.