• Charlotte Hardman

'What You Did To Me'- Better Days / Turned Up Louder

The tail end of last year was a whirlwind for many of us- some of us indulged in the delights of preparing for the festive season, whilst others stared blinkered at the horizon and the pale, glimmering hope of a few days off! In amongst all that chaos, however, some of the brilliant new music being released may have passed you by- however, if one of those albums happened to be ‘What You Did to Me’ by Newcastle-based pop punk quartet Better Days, then now is the time to rectify that oversight.

The band’s latest EP follows their biggest year of touring yet- 2018 saw them play with the likes of Milestones, The Bottom Line and Abandoned by Bears, as well as head out of their first ever headline tour. And with more dates already underway in 2019, most recently the band’s second headline run that included a sold-out hometown show, and with more sure to follow in the coming months, the final dreary dregs of winter are sure to be brightened by these Geordie gents!

The EP opens with the reverberating, melancholy tones of ‘Self Reflection’, which are quickly sliced through by the grit of frontman Graeme Costello‘s raw, unsullied vocals, which are coated in a veil of bubbling reverb that fizzes over the 61-second track. In true pop punk style, chuggy guitars are a common thread throughout this record: they thump relentlessly throughout lively circle-pit-starter ‘This House’, while the kick drum taps like a metronome to keep the whole room spinning; and rattling all through the melody of ‘Lucky’, which boasts thumping drum beats, and the crunching grit of the vocals is a delight. However, the lead guitar struggles to make itself heard at times, almost as if it is constantly fighting not to get swallowed by the pummelling of the bass and drums.

That lack of volume and depth is also found on ‘Woe Be Gone’. Picking up the pace from the early part of the record, it’s pleasantly skipping melody and vulnerable lyricism make for a positively effervescent chorus, however it would benefit from a little more of the bite that snaps at the fringes of some of the record’s other tracks. ‘Thick Skin’, however, strikes that chord precisely- there is a spring in the step of the melody that is bound to get heads bopping along, coupled with its swinging pop-rock chorus, yet there is also a crackle around the fringes of the vocals that pushes it out of the twee and into the impactful. Similar in tone is the rippling guitars that rise to the surface of ‘A Lesson in Struggling to Cope’, with it’s bright, hopeful lead guitar and rumbling drums in the pre-chorus.

The poignant lyrics are what really draw you in to the heart of this band. ‘Tired Bones, Weak Minds’ opens a classic rock ballad, however the dripping notes that hail the intro of the bridge is where the track begins to pick up, and by the crashing wave of the final verse, that desire for substance is finally fulfilled, with a waterfall of trickling notes falling over the pattering drums and smooth, grandiose bassline- a personal highlight of the entire record. Rounding out this EP’s seven tracks is the distorted guitars of ‘12.07.15’, where the drop of the sucker punch in the bridge resonates in the pit of your stomach, bringing with it a full, rousing, fist-pumping conclusion.

The UK’s pop punk scene has exploded over the past few years, with a chorus of bands n=all clamouring to make themselves heard, however rather than screaming along with the rest, Better Days have used their unfiltered honesty and vulnerability to endear themselves to their loyal cohort of fans. Yet with ‘What You Did To Me’, that candid energy is balanced by a more polished backdrop of classic pop punk melodies. The potential that this young band hold is clear, and with a new single and video on the horizon, Better Days are cutting their teeth and making their mark in the ever-expanding plethora of UK pop punk talent.

'What You Did To Me' is out now as a self-release.

The video for 'A Lesson in Struggling to Cope’ is out now- check it out below:

Connect with Better Days on Twitter: @betterdaysband

Connect with Better Days on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wearebetterdays/

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