WRITTEN BY: Hannah Rutt
Almost two years after the release of Overexposed, the debut LP that cemented them into the pop-punk scene (no doubt owing major thanks to a guest feature by Derek Discanio on the lead single), Chicago natives Sleep On It have returned bearing their sophomore effort – the energetic, confident, and vulnerable Pride & Disaster.
It is not really a shock to anyone anymore that genre is dying – if it isn’t already dead. We’ve seen artists bend the rules and expectations of decades old labels and compartments to create fresh new sounds, while other artists have sloughed off the concept of genre altogether with little more than a touch of disdain.
That being said, when something fits snugly into the predetermined boundaries of a genre, it runs the risk of being buried or serving as a pillar reminding us of why the genre was created in the first place and why we find comfort in pulling up our favorite genre playlist that just feels like home on Spotify and letting it spin. Sleep On It ran the risk of falling in the former category, but have firmly stuck the landing in the latter.
Pride & Disaster is a pop-punk record through and through; it’s a loud, full-bodied beast that practically tells you where to angrily point a finger or throw your neck out headbanging along to Luka Fischman’s demanding drum beats. TJ Horansky and Jake Marquis’ chunky power chords and infectious licks running through every track remind you why the genre is called pop-punk in the first place, and it’s hard not to throw your own voice in with Zech Pluister’s, who delivers a performance full of the same emotion and energy he stormed the front of the stage with back in 2016 when he was officially brought into the fold.
It is not hard to figure out why “Hold Your Breath,” (which bears a striking and sweetly nostalgic resemblance to any track you’d pick out of a hat from Yellowcard’s 2003 staple of the scene Ocean Avenue) “Under the Moment,” and “After Tonight” were chosen as the lead singles for this effort – they’re pinnacles of pop-punk excellence; songs to jump and thrash to and lose your voice screaming along to the chorus and classic execution of gang vocals. Pride & Disaster really shines through, though, on the tracks that fill out the rest of the album. Songs like “Babe Ruth” showcase what has possibly become a staple of Sleep On It’s lyrical style: it’s a loud, raw song that hides nostalgia for the past and what used to be and could’ve been behind a soaring chorus and bright guitars. A gem hidden on the back half of the record, “Take Me Back” is a desperate, anxious plea to a lost self and ruined chances, one that finds Pluister crooning on high notes and plowing through a bridge reflecting his own state of being dissatisfied with who he is.
Not every LP has to be a torch lit to spark a genre revolution. Sometimes an artist can get the best sound out of something they know best and hold dear, and it’s obvious in this sophomore record that Sleep On It has released a love letter to the past twenty (yeah, it’s been that long and then some) years of pop-punk to the world. Pride & Disaster feels like a record that has been in your collection for years. Each riff and chorus is ultimately familiar and has the safe feeling of home – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Sleep On It know what they like, they know what their fans like, and they’ve made a record that is sure to satisfy everyone craving a taste of that classic “sad lyrics, happy music” genre, even if they didn’t know that’s what they wanted.
Pop-punk has been around this long for a reason. It is not dead, and Sleep On It have proven that exceptionally. In fact, pop-punk is as they say in the penultimate track, “Logan Square” – “This place will always be home.”
Record For Fans of: State Champs, early Yellowcard
Spin This Track: “Take Me Back”
Follow writer Hannah Rutt on Twitter @deadgodspeed