Light Years make it clear even from just their Facebook bio that they love Blink 182 – and don’t we all? But there’s a fine line between being so in awe of a band that you’re inspired to make music to parallel their iconic sound and just ripping them off entirely. Whether it’s a combination of Pat Kennedy’s vocals which sound a bit too much like Mark Hoppus at times, or the scattering riffs; most songs on Afterlife could snuggly fit in on the Teenage Dirtbags compilation album or an American Pie remake.
Opening track ‘Back Then’ leads you into a false sense of security. With lyrics that tell of the band’s first tour accompanied by old-school pop punk melodies, the nostalgia hits home here. As a one off, this would have worked exceptionally well; referencing what influenced them during the very times in which they speak. However, when they fail to move on from this stock sound throughout most of the album, it makes them out to be a tribute act at best. From the guitar riffs in ‘Graveyard’ mirroring those heard in Good Charlotte’s ‘The Anthem’, to ‘Burning In My Blood’s bassline sounding like they belong on a Weezer record. It actually comes as quite a surprise that ‘Bottle Rocket’ doesn’t have any audible ties to Teenage Bottle Rocket. You better hope Neck Deep have patented their ‘Generic Pop Punk’ tagline because Light Years could be coming for that too.
There is some hope for the album though, in the form of ‘It Doesn’t Matter’ and ‘If I Knew Then’. Out of eleven tracks, these are the only two which sound completely original. Both feature high-tuned guitars and surprisingly slip away from the pop punk blueprint into something more contemporary. While this may be the only captivating element for ‘It Doesn’t Matter’, closing track ‘If I Knew Then’ is far more complex. With heavier undertones enhanced by more atmospheric instrumentation, it’s a shame it takes the whole album for them to reach this point.
Even if you argue that Light Years are doing no harm you still have to admit they’re bringing absolutely nothing new to the table here. Pop punk is a forever-developing genre - with bands like The Story So Far, Roam and Knuckle Puck managing to hold up the fort without copying every other band from the early noughties - so what’s their excuse? Unfortunately for Light Years, feeding the nostalgia can only get you so far as Afterlife verges on plagiarism in the hopes that people are still listening to American Hi-Fi.