This review originally appeared in Issue 03 of Lamplighter Magazine in December 2012 and subsequently on LamplighterNJ.com in May 2013
Refreshingly vintage. It almost stings using this phrase to describe Here’s To Starting Over’s new three-track EP, Life, Love, and the Meaning Of: Part I, because what it really means is that many of the artists we’ve grown up listening to are on their way out of relevance in contemporary culture, if not already long gone. But the memories that this record’s tone will immediately pull from the depths of your high school subconscious make it undeniably vintage, like the nostalgia of dusting off the first jewel-cased CD you ever bought. What makes this album “refreshing” is the way that none of this reminiscence feels forced. They didn’t write a record that reminds us of listening to Deja Entendu on PureVolume just because they were seeking to draft off of the success that Brand New has found. They wrote what they were actually feeling, and it shows. Jersey listeners in particular will appreciate local references in the lyrics of “Philly:” “I watched the sun set over Philly / Reminisced about my life back in Jersey.” Lines like these from the opening track serve to keep the record grounded and authentic.
The album’s biggest flaw lies in the organization of the three tracks, but it’s hard to really fault them, as three tracks are typically more about publishing content than they are about fluidity or structure. “Philly” is by far the strongest track, which is probably why they chose to open with it. But it gets bigger and better towards the end of the song, making you wish they had closed with this instead of the short, high-energy “Long Walk Home,” which would have served well as an opening track. The second song, “Built to Expire,” exhibits a slower, quieter version of their sound, and it rests in a good position on the album. Save for the chorus of “Philly,” there are not many hooks on this record, but the calculated balance of energy and restraint on each track makes up for the lack of melody. Fortunately for Here’s To Starting Over, nostalgia is not their only draw. Pop-punk has seen a mature revival as of late, and Life, Love, and the Meaning Of: Part I will fit right in with the best of these recent records.