I was thrilled when I heard that Pittsburgh hometown legends Punchline were back in the studio, ready to release LION. I have been a huge Punchline fan for over a decade — 2004’s Action was the soundtrack to the summer after my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college. To this day, that album makes me incredibly nostalgic and remains one of my all-time favorites. When I was given the opportunity to hear and review LION, I jumped at the chance and I am glad I did.
Admittedly, LION is a bit out of my normal wheelhouse. On the whole, the album has a pop feel that is highlighted by catchy vocals and hooks that the band is known for. The lead single and album opener, “Friend from the Future”, has a great appeal to longtime and new fans of the band alike. It is a catchy song that is a bit on the heavier punk side but still showcases the excellent vocal performance and group vocals that Punchline is all about. It is followed up by “Another Tale of Remember When” which offers sing-along worthy hooks with group vocals and melodies that are sure to get stuck on your head.
There are some songs that have a more emotional feel as well, such as “Green Hills 2018” or “Cant Tell What’s Real” — highlighted by slow melodic acoustic lines and killer vocals that are a bit of a departure for fans of the bands older work. One song that strikes me as unique is “Darkest Dark”. This track is a little more slow paced, but still have the driving drum beats and bass lines that have been a part of Punchline’s history — it is reminiscent of bands like Motion City Soundtrack that alternate between a strong punk feel with a pop appeal and sing-song vibes.
Hardcore fans of the band will appreciate some of the heavier tunes on the record. My personal favorite is “Honey This is Nothing New”. This track has a chorus that has been stuck on my head since I heard it, and a heavy bass line that grabs your attention from the onset. There are some other noteworthy songs that will appeal to the longtime fan of the band like “Sensory Overload” (featuring Anthony Raneri from Bayside) or the slow-paced but heavy “A Friend Indeed”.
One of the coolest things about LION is that it was almost totally self-produced by the band. They called on some old friends for cameos such as Anthony Raneri (Bayside) and Matt Theissen (Reliant K), that are sure to excite fans. LION is a tremendous evolution for one of my favorite bands — check it out when it drops Friday, March 30th!
Don’t miss Punchline on tour starting April 11 in Chicago with special guests The Stolen.
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