Emo has as little right as pop-punk to continue to command popularity. With roots planted decades ago, these scenes lived a heyday that is now but a wistful adolescent memory for those approaching 30. So how have these fuzzy, opinion-polarising genres survived, in the process attracting new generations? Hot Mulligan’s fusion of the two illustrates the answer perfectly.
The four-piece from Lansing, North Michigan represent a continuation of designs drawn up by bands such as Boston Manor and Knuckle Puck, with whom they are currently touring North America. Their full-length debut ‘Pilot’ represents a band with the potential to at least match the successes of their current tour mates.
Insistently up-tempo, ‘Deluxe Capacitor’ is near-perfect as an album opener, tearing through riffs and setting the record’s lyrical tone, at once despairing and nonchalant: “I guess I’ll get stoned by myself / as if I have anyone else to run to”.
The twiddling guitar of ‘I Hate The Gooey Disk’ and ‘There Was A Semi Fight on I-69’ explicitly allude to the likes of American Football, a self-confirmed influence. Such a reference could easily have felt shoe-horned in, but framed within independently well-written songs, it works.
Suitably pretentious, obscure titles abound, a highlight of which is ‘How Do You Know It’s Not Armadillo Shells?’. Vindicated gimmicks are scarcely gimmicks at all, however, and it turns out to be the best track on the record. Tades Sanville negotiates a mouthful melody amongst supplementary keyboards and addictive processed rhythms.
On first listen, ‘Pilot’ blends together somewhat, but this is not to its detriment. Any number of its tracks can be interchanged and reshuffled, with the flow left intact. Repeated visits reveal more gems, such as ‘Wes Dault Can’t Find The Madison Falcon’, while first-listen standouts such as ‘The Soundtrack To Missing a Slam Dunk’ only get better.
Make no mistake; Hot Mulligan look to be the real deal. This is an impressive offering populated by evidence that, once again, the emo/pop-punk crossover is a winning formula that proves the compatibility — and longevity — of each sub-genre.
‘Pilot’ by Hot Mulligan is out now on No Sleep Records.
Words by Peter Stewart (@PeteStew_)