I like to write long reviews, ’cause I like reading long reviews. I want to contribute to the “long reviews” file of the world. However, Banquets‘ Top Button, Bottom Shelf resists that approach, and not just because this punk album consists of ten songs in an airtight 25 minutes.
Nope, the reason this review is short because there are a small number of elements in Banquets’ sound that set it apart immediately from other pop-punk.
1. There are few obvious verse/chorus/verse structures, meaning that this whole thing feels like one hooky stream of consciousness.
2. The vocalist is stellar, bringing the perfect mix of vocal acrobatics, muscle and melody to the music.
3. The guitarists turned down the treble knobs on their amps, creating a bass-heavy, immediately accessible sound. Similarly, the treble on the cymbals is (thankfully, thankfully, thankfully) cranked down.
4. The band hits it and quits it, never dragging out anything that could be made into too much of a good thing. Always leave ’em wanting more.
The best place to start is “Unforgiven V,” which is unsurprisingly the shortest song here except for the intro tune. A dual vocal approach and a sense of high drama that isn’t pushed into melodrama create the song of a summer I want to have. Mega.
So yes. Get yourself some Top Button, Bottom Shelf if you like pop-punk at all. It’s not your average “super-loud-pop-songs-yaallllllll” — it’s so, so much better.