Catchy guitar riffs, pop punk vocals, and tunes that make the listener want to bop to the beat constantly is what sums up WSTR’s debut record, Red, Green or In Between. Many of the tracks can be described as typical pop punk tracks, although WSTR pulls it off in a fun-loving manner, for the most part. There are parts on this record where certain instruments overpower other aspects on the track, which doesn’t completely destroy the song but makes it less enjoyable to listen to. One of the best aspects that this record has is the guitar; in every song they manage to make the guitar riffs, particularly the opening ones, extremely catchy.
This pop punk four piece formed in Liverpool, UK and consists of Sammy Clifford, vocals, Kieren Alder, guitar, Danny Swift, guitar, and Alex Tobijanski, bass. Their debut was released on Jan. 20 through No Sleep Records.
Red, Green or In Between kicks off with the high intensity track, “Featherweight.” It opens up with a catchy guitar riff, similarly to most of the songs on this record. One of the biggest things that WSTR did right was their guitarwork. This track did its job of introducing the album and the style that it will follow.
With most of the songs on this record, the ratio between the vocals and instrumentals are pretty good, especially because pop punk is known for a style where the instrumentals overpower occasionally. However, with some songs, the instrumentals overpower the vocals more so than they should. This happens with “Hightail” and especially “Footprints.” In “Footprints,” it’s the drums that don’t mix well because during the first verse the cymbals overpower the vocals way too much. Luckily, this doesn’t persist through the song and doesn’t take away completely from the track, but it is distracting. The acoustic version is much better.
“Lonely Smiles” is the song that shows of Clifford’s vocals the best. His voice especially during the bridge is enjoyable to listen to. The way he sounds at this point in the song isn’t going to be for everyone, but personally it sounds unique. His voice is dynamic and fluctuates in registers based on the part in the song, like the chorus and bridge.
The most stand out tracks include “Eastbound & Down,” “The Last Ride,” and “Punchline” because of how their instrumentals sound. “Eastbound & Down” sounds like it would be a slower song (at least compared to the majority of the album) then breaks out into a fast tempo track with unique guitar that sounds different from typical pop punk riffs.
“The Last Ride” has a similar intro to “Eastbound & Down” but still remains as unique. WSTR utilized overlaid vocals in the bridge, which makes it a more dynamic and stand out track.
“Punchline” starts out sounding like an acoustic song, but leads into powerful guitars and drums. The guitar at points overpowers the vocals but that is fixed as it hits the chorus, where the vocals shine. The fact that it has acoustic elements makes it the best track to complete the record.
Pop punk fans will enjoy this record because it’s a very pure pop punk album, with changes in certain songs to diversify it a bit. However, some of the songs can sound too similar and the mixing of the instrumentals and vocals can sometimes be distracting. WSTR did a good job with their debut for the genre, but should create songs more variety on their next record.