With songs like “Sexlexia,” “Go Home, You’re Drunk,” “All That Glitters is Goldschlager” and “Look Sharp, Don’t Get Cut,” One Headlight High is out to prove that fun pop-punk doesn’t stop with bands like Blink-182, All Time Low and 3OH!3.
The band consists of five 20-somethings — Danny Hogue (guitar), Ethan Piveral (bass), Duston Noland (drums), Trevor Phillips (guitar) and Tyler McIntosh (vocals) — who got their start in the little town of Westboro, Mo. They have since performed in bars and clubs all around St. Joseph, Kansas City, Lawrence, Omaha, Lincoln and St. Louis. And wherever One Headlight High goes, they’re usually the life of the party.
That’s the vibe put forth on “Live Free or Don’t,” the band’s new sophomore album. The opener “6 or 10” is powered by charging chord progressions and riffs reminiscent of songs from Andrew W.K.’s “I Get Wet,” but the track’s harmonies and choruses have a distinct Fall Out Boy vibe. “Tough Cup to Finish” and “You Could Use Some Motivation” also display some tasty licks and nice hooks. “Look Sharp, Don’t Get Cut” even has some bro sing-alongs. One Headlight High resists the urge to dive into a deeper, harder-edged sound that emo bands like Finch and Matchbook Romance often did. The five-piece always keeps things catchy.
Like Blink-182, One Headlight High’s lyrics often venture into depressed teenage boy territory despite their sunny disposition. In the up-tempo “Sexlexia,” for example, McIntosh languishes about missing his former lover while dwelling on his “bad day” and how he still makes the “bed for two.” Throughout the album, he sings — with a hint of youthful sarcasm — of wronged romance, regretful nights and punk-derived passion.
In all 10 songs, “Live Free or Don’t” urges you to embrace your inner 19-year-old — the one who used to wear a pair of Vans, the one who used to go to the Warped Tour, the one who used to be so heartbroken when a girl dumped you.
On “Live Free or Don’t,” it shows. Songs like “Push Your Buttons” sounds like the best stuff New Found Glory never wrote, “Tough Cup to Finish” channels the energy of bands like Yellowcard and early Fall Out Boy and “Meanwhile in Maryville” sounds like a better, latter-era Green Day song.