According to What is a Wisconsin based band who impressed listeners with their debut EP Punk songs to Hold Hands To, a short four-track collection of noise rock / punk songs with emphasis on heart-on-your sleeve songwriting. Their full length debut A Time You Felt Insecure Around All Your Friends adds more of the same but with a few stylistic additions that further rounds out the band’s sound. Abrasive guitar riffs with hook-filled progressions and restless drums are a staple of each song. The male-female dynamic of Maggie Denman and Luis Perez’ vocals dictate the soul and emotion of each track, where they sing about relationship woes, identity struggles and the confusion of navigating through youth. While their debut EP identifies them more as aggressive garage punk peppered with twee elements, this latest offering finds According to What in a more subdued and introspective mood. Although they still lean on the loud side of indie, there are moments here where they’re willing to strip down the noise to give more space for emotions. As a result they sound more like a well-rounded indie pop group that any fan of the genre can enjoy.
“Tilted Arc” opens the band strong with crunching guitars and sugary hooks. The songwriting in here is starkly reminiscent of someone going through their adolescent years as it shares the story of an awkward relationship, with two viewpoints looking back and wondering “if it mattered at all?”
“Mona Lisa” channels the 80’s coming of age movies from John Hughes along with Edgar Wright’s quirky Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World as it tackles a complicated love triangle over soaring guitars and pummeling drums. Similarly, “Following Piece” gives flashbacks to 80’s new wave with its punchier staccato rhythms, vulnerable lyrics and glimmering guitar riffs.
“Harold Lauder” is the perfect track for those craving for full-volume speaker blasts from the middle of a sweaty mosh pit. Same can be said for “Spatial Relief”, which is classic three-chord punk that feels timeless and universal.
The album ends with a neat change-up that owes to the band’s creativity. “Metronomic Irregularity” is janglepop at its core, with sparkling riffs and caramel-coated vocals. A smooth exit and the perfect dessert for a hearty indie pop feast. According To What may be still young in their craft, but the band shows great promise.