Worship This! is a melodic punk quartet hailing from Akron, Ohio, and ‘Tomorrow, I’ll Miss You,’ which will be released by A-F Records on May 14, is their first full length album. To be totally honest, on my first listen-through I didn’t think it would last long on my current Ipod rotation, with the likes of Off With Their Head’s ‘Home,’ NOFX’s ‘Self-Entitled,’ and Frank Turner’s ‘Tapedeck Heart’–something good for whichever mood I was in. As it turns out, it’s an album that grows on you, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be revisiting it regularly throughout the summer.
The sound of Worship This! is not so easy to pigeonhole, and doing so won’t help make up your mind as to whether or not you should check them out (spoiler: you probably should). Still, for the sake of this review, if I had to give you references I’d be tempted to mention bands like The Menzingers, Off With Their Heads, The Gaslight Anthems, and a decent dose of Hot Water Music. But none of these comparisons work completely because it merely positions Worship This! within a broad sub-genre I sometimes think of as ‘American Rock and Roll Punk.’ It’s defined by clean guitars, heartfelt lyrics delivered with urgency and honesty, and a Springsteenish feel to the melodies.
Their music deserves more than a few broad brushstrokes like that. One thing that sets Worship This! apart is the distinctive tone and style of the lead guitar. It instantly reminded me of Sonic Youth–especially on tracks like ‘Summit Tower’ and ‘Red Herring’–adding a subtle alt/indie aesthetic I really appreciated (I know it’s a bit of a stretch, but it’s definitely there, and when’s the last time you listened to ‘Daydream Nation’ anyway?) The prominence of that guitar is what grabbed my attention first, and I still think it’s the most original and interesting element of their sound. Beyond that there’s a certain sophistication to their song crafting in the way that they break rhythm and add unexpected bridges and interludes, with the result that it’s hard to write them off as just another pop punk act.
Of course, the raspy, throaty voice of vocalist Josh Taylor cannot be overlooked. It’s a strong, bellowing punk rock voice that lends itself well to the darker introspective subject matter they are often dealing with. However, he does seem to be pushing it as far as it will go on almost every track. One thinks he would want to modulate it a bit to accompany the mellower moments of the album.
Clocking in at just over 40 minutes, the album maneuvers smoothly between angry up-tempo songs like opening track ‘I, Human,’ easily one of the stronger and more memorable offerings on the album, and more pop/alternative pieces like ‘Springs and Levers,’ and ‘Space Orphan’ which, to the band’s benefit, are excellent pieces in their own right. In the end, however, that smoothness almost works against the album, which seems to move forward in a streamlined fashion, missing a few of those arresting moments of raw melodic power which distinguish the great punk album from the totally unforgettable one. Still, it’s a small–and forgivable–caveat, especially for a first record, so let’s not dwell on it.
The verdict: a worthy punk album with several interesting tracks, and it gets better the more you listen to it.