Much like 2017's full length Normal, The latest offering from Pittsburgh folk-punk mainstay The Homeless Gospel Choir is filled with emotion and loathing for our current geopolitical climate masked by pretty pop-punk. However, This Land Is Your Landfill see's Derek Zanetti - the man behind the project - with more venom in his words, more frustration in his bloodstream and more energy in his delivery. The upbeat guitars gently shift focus from the intense lyrics, and their new sound highlights a figure more aware of the wider picture and more articulate. However, as is the issue with many fully fledged and full band pop-punk albums, This Land is Your Landfill sometimes fails to separate it's self from it's punk focused peers.
‘Global Warming’ opens with warm-toned guitars layered over feedback, before Zanetti’s signature vocals take centre stage. As you’d expect, ‘Global Warming’ is about the current climate crisis, its impacts, and the infuriating and damaging ignorance of president Donald Trump. Behind the lyrics, The Homeless Gospel Choir’s eclectic acoustic pop-punk sound prevails, offering an upbeat feel which continues through the following tracks. Immediately, Zanetti's more focused delivery comes apparent, the contrast between the overall sound and harrowing subject matters a mirror of the way the population plays blind to the unfolding nightmare that is climate change and the global political upheaval.
Positivity drips from follow up ‘Don’t Compare’ as Zanetti tells himself, “Don’t you dare compare yourself to anyone but you”. The song highlights anger at modern society as Zanetti occasionally spits out lyrics with passionate revulsion. Alongside an upbeat message are subtle, lovely layers of vocals, a chorus that encourages loud singing, and speedy guitar riffs. In relation, ‘Art Punk’ is yet another sing-along anthem, which Zanetti explained is, “about the anxiety that artists, punks, and fuck ups often feel.” The sparkly instruments and clever metaphors throughout scream contradiction, as the upbeat music shelters brutally honest lyrics.
Changing the tone, ‘You Never Know’ hides nothing. It could be the very essence of this record. Its pure, stripped back acoustic guitar compliments Zanetti’s lyrics, offering an intimate feel to the track. There’s no fear of the existential on This Land is Your Landfill, as Zanetti sings of the sadness that can come with growth. The different pace of ‘You Never Know’ will cause tears to prickle your eyes as the lyrics hit home.
Whilst This Land Is Your Landfill overall resonates the anxiety many of us have been experiencing over the past year or so, there is a discrepancy between the intensity provided by the tracks that compose it. The more politically orientated tracks such as the aforementioned 'Global Warming', You Never Know', 'Social Real Estate' and 'A Dream About The Internet' for example see's The Homeless Gospel Choir at the project's finest, marring the joyful and striking punk positivity with venomous range and authentic zeal. However in contrast, there are tracks - such as 'Young And In Love' and 'Blind Faith' - that fail to leave an impact in comparison. Don't be misled, they're not awful songs, but they fail to carry the fervent passion their peers carry so brilliantly, and overall, create stutters in the album's overall quality.
However, before the album ends, The Homeless Gospel Choir give fans one last bolshy track. ‘Punk as Fuck’ is exactly as you’d expect; there’s a confidence in the bass-heavy sound, and it’s more classic pop-punk than before. Zanetti’s vocal finds a new power as his band has fun with the music. Of the 11 new tunes, ‘Punk as Fuck’ is the most enjoyable - there are lyrics that prompt a giggle and a chorus that simply encourages a singalong.
The Homeless Gospel Choir have provided the world with some true gems with this album. Yet, with the record occasionally dipping close to mediocrity, it may not be an album ultimately praised from the Pennsylvania rooftops. However, overall, it's an album that more than warrants attention and stands as another invigorating offering from one of Pittsburgh's most tireless.
This Land Is Your Landfill is released April 24th via Hassle Records. Pre-order the album here.