As one of the old guard of post-hardcore, Hot Water Music influenced a generation beyond their untimely hiatus. Reappearing in 2012, they have seen a revival of sorts and with five years since last studio album ‘Exciter’, ‘Light It Up’ is long overdue.
Within the opening bars of ‘Complicated’, it’s easy to hear that things are anything but their namesake. Having built a career around a sound that is unmistakably their own, ‘Light It Up’ is no exception. With a clear sense of melody, the need to be flashy is eradicated and is instead replaced with solid performance, powerful vocal delivery and rock steady rhythm, helping songs like ‘Never Going Back’ and title track ‘Light It Up’ shine.
The major chords of ‘Rabbit Key’ provides quintessential pop-punk, while the slower tempo of ‘Sympathizer’ creates a sense of melancholy. Things do start to get a little monotonous with ‘Hold Out’ and ‘Overload’ offering nothing to really sink your teeth into. Hidden between the latter half of this album you will find ‘Bury Your Idols’, a track made for sing-alongs in a style more akin to the punk-folk of the likes of Frank Turner. This change in approach breathes fresh air into a record that risks losing casual listeners.
Go home track, ‘Take You Away’ offers little in the way of a crescendo to proceedings but does deliver sing-alongs in true Bruce Springsteen fashion, only crammed into two and a half minutes. The rasped vocals and melodies of Chuck Ragan are captivating to an extent, but fail to create engagement through the full 12 tracks of ‘Light It Up’
With five years to pour over their latest release, Hot Water Music have failed to innovate, and instead opted to play things safe. ‘Light It Up’ is an enjoyable listen, but one that will be seldom replayed. Fans will be pleased to have new music but with a stellar back catalogue to choose from, this is not about to reach the underground successes Hot Water Music have become accustomed to.
‘Light It Up’ by Hot Water Music is out now on Rise Records.
Words by Jay Harrison (@Just_Jay_89)