The scene is a niche crowd to be a part of, and frankly, not everyone gets it, but for those that do, there have been more than enough bands stepping up to the plate as of late as the Paramores and the Fall Out Boys meet new sounds and mainstream success. For every Paramore track in existence, there’s at least a dozen other female-fronted pop/punk bands arguably trying to pop up on the scene in an attempt to take what was once theirs, but it’s when a female-fronted pop/punk band comes onto the scene without trying to be the next Paramore- when they’re truly individual in and of themselves -that they can truly, deservedly nab the attention of listeners everywhere. Heck, it’s even admittable that New York-based We Are In The Crowd didn’t necessarily tack very many boxes on the splotch test for “uniqueness” when they first hit the scene in 2009. All of the necessary pieces of what makes a pop/punk band a pop/punk band were there– catchy hooks, in-your-face vocals and instrumentals, and a batch of relatively literal lyrics to match –and their 2011 debut album, ‘Best Intentions’, was a rock solid one. With that said, it was not hard to argue that the band was still coming into its own, and that they had not yet fully matured despite their promise.
We Are In The Crowd must have either noticed that a bit on their own or really just had some good juice with their breakfast the morning of the day that they had decided to conceive ‘Weird Kids’, because, while still perfectly imperfect, it manages to build upon the traditional pop/punk foundation of what they are mostly known for to start creating their own individualistic sound without disrespecting it. It isn’t quite what ‘Pioneer’ was for The Maine in terms of setting a revolution, but it is what ‘Brand New Eyes’ was for Paramore, or ‘The Other Side’ for Tonight Alive in showing that they could retain all of the best pieces of their sound whilst developing something entirely new to coincide with those pieces and create something that the fans would still totally love. This is perceivable right from the opening seconds of ‘Weird Kids’, during which the track “Long Live The Kids” sets itself up as a potent pop ballad with a slow, inspiring build… only to introduce blaring guitar work courtesy of Cameron Hurley and Jordan Eckes, ushering in the full band seconds later for a higher tempo, rocking number fitting for an album opener.
Other tracks present that tend to divert from the traditional pop/punk formula the band had already established through ‘Best Intentions’ include “Manners”, which like the opening track, combines the conventional with the unconventional, with the unconventional being an electronic, synth/pop-style duet between frontwoman Tay Jardine and Jordan Eckes in the verse before transferring to more of a straightforward pop/punk sound for the chorus. “Come Back Home” takes things a key lower and introduces an acoustic guitar as its instrumental centerpiece, harking in a more distinctly pop/rock sound that wouldn’t necessarily be out of place on one of OneRepublic or Keane’s signature albums. “Don’t You Worry” also brings something of a unique factor to ‘Weird Kids’ in the form of an unlikely fiddle-fueled flavor, whereas “Windows In Heaven” presents the most potent track of the band’s career thus far both lyrically and in terms of arrangement, featuring a slow, intricate, beautiful build-up that perfectly depicts how far the band have come in terms of maturity in its subject matter. It is perfectly ethereal, with Tay delivering her most heartfelt, relatable lyric and vocal yet. Everything about it makes it a must-hear track, even for those who are the smallest fans of pop/punk, as it represents a subject material and delivery that transcends any labels the band may have taken and is in and of itself just an amazing song.
With all of the evolutionary steps which it represents, ‘Weird Kids’ isn’t without its fair share of traditional pop/punk tropes, either. Much of what you’ll hear on the album lyrically is very much what you’d have come to expect from a record straight out of the scene, featuring, primarily, tracks dealing with love lost, rowdy, rebellious broken hearts and the ordeal of finding oneself in the midst of all of the confusion. It’s in the execution of each track’s arrangement and placement that makes it stand out, and in that, We Are In The Crowd have done a good job in terms of keeping enough of what fans would expect of them on the album whilst taking some liberties in terms of specific instrumental choices and vocal effects. Whilst not absolutely groundbreaking in terms of overall delivery, it is an incredibly solid release that fans of the pop/punk genre could not possibly be wrong in choosing to pick up at the local record store (or, you know, Best Buy like I did).
‘Weird Kids’ represents one tremendous step in the right direction for We Are In The Crowd. Whilst never straying too far from the sound that put them on the map, they do take some artistic liberties to truly inhabit that sound and make it believable. Thus far, ‘Weird Kids’ is the defining piece of pop/punk released this year, and most definitely the current defining moment of their career, with tracks like “Windows In Heaven” really showing just how far they can collectively go. Here’s to hoping We Are In The Crowd sticks together for a long while, as their journey throughout the years, theoretically, should be one fans of the genre could enthusiastically follow to the top of the charts. All of the makings are there and more evident than ever. Just a couple more years of experience and musical development more, and we might very well see We Are In The Crowd (deservedly) at the top of the heap.
If you would like to follow We Are In The Crowd’s musical journey for yourself, make sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter! Also make sure to follow me on Twitter for all of the latest reviews, interviews, and more!