Album Review: Head North – Bloodlines EP

Having been a fan of Head North for over a year I was, like many others, eagerly anticipating the release of ‘Bloodlines’. Since the ‘Scrapbook Minds’ EP, the band have progressed at a crazy pace and are now one of the most talked about bands in the pop punk scene and beyond. Given the fact that the band have only been together a little over 2 years, this is no mean feat. On this latest release they have again pushed the boundaries of the genre to new lengths, and it has more than paid off.

Opening track ‘Brave Hands’ sets the tone for the whole EP, full of intricate guitar riffs, interesting bass riffs and dynamic brilliance, it captivates the listener from start to finish. Vocalist Brent Martone can go from the most sensitive of whisper to a full yell in the space of one line, gelling perfectly with the equally as powerful vocals provided by bassist Alex Matos. If you were to compare this track with the opener from ‘Scrapbook Minds’ the newfound maturity of the songwriting becomes remarkably obvious. The standard pop punk, relatable “shout along” lyrics are still there, the upbeat tempo is still there, but its the new depth and melodic awareness that completely sets Head North apart.

’Bluejay’ continues in a similar vein, the careful layering of the instruments building up to one of the catchiest choruses you will hear. Its clear that bands such as Have Mercy and The Wonder years have had some kind of influence on the band going forward. The next song ‘The Planet’ wouldn’t seem out of place on the first Have Mercy record, with its immersive lyrics and powerful riffs, complimented perfectly by Ben Lieber on the drums. This song is so subtle in parts and hugely uplifting in others, it is refreshing to see a pop punk band using a different approach from their peers, where often everything is at full volume throughout.

‘The Path’ is perhaps the furthest departure from known territory for Head North. Its a lot more sombre than the rest of the EP, opening with Brent Martone’s familiar soft tones, only this time over an eery repeated yell of “It’s just a stranger and nothing more” before the understated but instantly recognisable drums come in again. It doesn’t take long for the track to really get going, with one of the bounciest riffs on the record.

On the whole ‘Bloodlines’ is a fantastic EP, the only minor blip being the repetitiveness of ‘Old and Grey’ which just seems to lack the depth of the other tracks. From start to finish it is an emotional roller-coaster, full of angst and grit, but presented in an incredibly interesting way that is way above the usual realms of Pop Punk. Head North have grown more as a band over a few EPs than many bands do in their whole career. They are set for a huge 2015. I urge you to give this a listen.

4/5

‘Bloodlines’ EP by Head North is out now on Bad Timing Records

Head North links: Facebook|Twitter|Bandcamp

Words by Andy McGonigle (@andyjmcg87)

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