A near-flawless debut that proves pop-rock isn't dead.
New York pop-rockers Against the Current, formed of vocalist Chrissy Costanza, guitarist Dan Gow and drummer Will Ferri, have come a long way in a short time – from humble YouTube beginnings to their debut major label release in only a few years. After racking up millions of subscribers through YouTube covers of Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift hits, In Our Bones is the band’s first full-length album, following two self-released EPs: 2014’s Infinity and 2015’s Gravity.
In Our Bones boasts the anthemic, bouncing choruses and emotionally-charged lyrics that were characteristic of the pop-punk giants of the early to mid-2000s, but the slick, synth-laden production and glossy electronic sound firmly places the album in 2016. But it would be ignorant to compare the band to fellow pop-punkers and now-labelmates Paramore, especially when In Our Bones is such a clear culmination of the efforts spent experimenting and cultivating a familiar yet fresh sound for Against the Current on their EPs.
The album opens with ‘Running With The Wild Things’, an aggressive rock track that was released as the first single from In Our Bones. It’s possibly the heaviest, hardest track on the record, but it already hints at the pop sensibilities that are evident later in the album – nestled among the whirling guitars and Chrissy Costanza’s powerful vocals are pounding, echoing synths. The song is an anthem for social revolution, with Costanza bellowing “Standardisation of the masses / Give us a number, fail or pass us / Education, manipulation / Decide our fate but never ask us” – a critique of modern education systems, maybe?
This is followed by ‘Forget Me Now’, where Costanza takes an enthusiastic, energetic stab at everyone who ever looked down on or doubted her – “My voice on the airwaves / It’s echoing louder and louder / I bet you won’t forget me now”. The appropriately haunting ‘Chasing Ghosts’ possesses a hypnotic beat, and ‘One More Weekend’ desperately asks to return to a love and freedom that is long gone.
The band dials it back on ‘In Our Bones’, a light, sugary-sweet acoustic track that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Taylor Swift album, but turns the energy back up to eleven on ‘Young and Relentless’. ‘Runaway’ is an effortlessly fun and instantly catchy love song, one of the simplest on the album but also one of the most effective – it’s a slice of feel-good, summery pop-punk with an explosive chorus. ‘Brighter’ – a track previously released on the Gravity EP – is pure arena rock, building to a bombastic finale. The electronic beats of ‘Wasteland’ carry Costanza’s vocals which turn from breathy to bold in a matter of seconds.
The sentimental, 1980s-teen-movie-soundtrack-worthy ‘Roses’ mourns a relationship that ended too quickly – “I miss the long nights under streetlights / When our hearts were made of gold”. But there’s a pretty big plot twist in the bridge – this isn’t for just any old break-up. The album concludes with the trance-like ‘Demons’, closing on a dark and dreamy note.
In Our Bones is a natural evolution from the band’s previous work, and expertly mixes the alternative rock sounds of days gone by with undeniably modern synthpop, resulting in an album that perfectly captures both nostalgia and innovation in equal measure. You’ve heard this before – but you haven’t. With a debut this good, Against the Current prove that they’re not just bringing pop-rock back – they’ve made it their own.
In Our Bones is out now via Fueled by Ramen.