Mayday Parade’s fifth full length album Black Lines presents an ambitious cross-over between aggressive rock and tuneful pop punk, still reaching for the familiar heartfelt hooks that have characterised them, but with an innovative and nuanced approach.
An explosive opening, ‘One of Them Will Destroy The Other’, sets the tone for the much more mature, expansive sound mastered in Black Lines. Mayday Parade’s experimentalist intentions are apparent from the offset in the additional vocals given by Dan Lambton, of fellow pop punk band Real Friends, whose harsher cries slice through intricate guitar melodies, producing a fast and harmonious flurry of emotion.
Rhythmic power guitars lead heavier songs ‘Let’s Be Honest’ and ‘Keep In Mind, Transmogrification Is A New Technology’, which provide a particular grittiness and urgency that the band have previously lacked. At the other end of the spectrum, ‘Letting Go’ and ‘Look Up And See Infinity, Look Down And See Nothing’ bear a touching potency, both soaked in emotional rawness; the former brings a refreshing breather from the tireless energy demonstrated on preceding songs. These contrasts are juxtaposed to create a varied dynamic that playfully shifts around and between the realms of poised introspection and boisterous vitality, making for an alluring proposition.
It’s a pity that the album trails off into more predictable territory during the last couple of songs, where the generic guitar riffs sound washed out on ‘Until You’re Big Enough’ and the mid-tempo chorus of ‘One Of Us’ rounds the album off all a little too comfortably, a distant cry from the promising opening.
Black Lines is Mayday Parade at their most confident, which transcends into a array of well-shaped, melodic anthems, representing a significant progression for the band on an album that at best, explores and accentuates its contrasts.