As of late April, 2021, #poppunk had 580 million views on TikTok. Widespread angst and isolation during the pandemic combined with crossover albums from popular artists like Machine Gun Kelly have given a new life to the genre that boomed from behind the closed door of every pre-teen’s bedroom at the turn of the millenia.
In Denver, a hyperactive, fashion-forward group is making music that could just be the cutting edge of this resurgence. Though VYNYL strayed into synth-pop territory with their first EP, Pink, 2021’s aptly titled The World Is On Fire, and I’m Lonely is full of grit without losing any of the hookiness of the band’s earlier work.
The EP’s opener, “sex/drugs/therapy,” makes a good case as the perfect bittersweet summer soundtrack into the final stretch of the pandemic: “This is the antisocial summer scene, oh, you give me everything I don’t need. Cheap perfume seeps into me. I just wanna believe in sex, drugs, therapy.”
The lead single, “heart//break” first lulls you into a false sense of security with a plinky synth riff and breathy vocals from lead singer John Tyler. Soon though, palm-muted guitar crunch melts into a delicious nu-metal riff soaring into a crescendo that’s impossible not to full-body mosh to. The rest of the EP follows suit. Catchy melodies are paired with crisp production and colossal energy.
The band takes a brief foray into mellower territory with the R&B infused soft rock anthem “quite like you,” and closing track “easy+target” devolves into Tame Impala-esque psychedelia.
The album’s theme is focused and consistent. Again and again, Tyler laments over backsliding into a dysfunctional, but comfortable relationship. Weed and delusion numb the pain, but, beneath it all, something is wrong. Whether or not you harbor a nostalgic love for pop-punk, The World Is On Fire, and I’m Lonely will leave you with earworms for days. It’s the perfect pop-packaged dedication to the shared trauma of the past year.