Welcome to #PopPunkInColor. And no, we're not talking about Awsten Knight's latest hair style but a movement, mission statement and vision of the future spearheaded by pioneer pop-punkers Action/Adventure. The Chicago based five-piece are comprised entirely of BIPOC members dedicated to ensuring the genre is representative of the real world and to continue the move away from the white dominated stereotype of pop punk.
Although they've existed as a band since 2014 and been doing relatively well bubbling under the surface of the scene, Action/Adventure (or A/A for short) have only recently exploded into the wider public sphere of consciousness thanks to popular social media app TikTok. The band put together a 60 second song and accompanying video which detailed some of the racism and discrimination each of the members had faced at shows as part of the pop punk scene. Guitarist and vocalist Brompton Jackson posted the video along with the hashtag #PopPunkInColor which then unexpectedly went viral, garnering an epic 60k plays in one day. Fast forward three weeks later and they're in talks with Pure Noise Records - a wonderful rise-to-fame story for the modern ages.
Their fourth EP - Pulling Focus - and their first on a major label, is out now. Ironically, it was written at a time when the guys were struggling with the ups and downs of being in a band and thought it might be their last EP before 'slowing down considerably.' Now, the future could look a whole lot different, with slowing down not on the agenda.
The track that started this whole crazy journey, Barricades', is the one that kicks off the EP and rightfully so. It sets the whole tone of the record, neatly summing up everything the band is about in one hectic minute. "Would you listen if we looked any different" is a rallying battle-cry to bring pop punk crashing into the future. Then it's on to lead single 'Poser' and a more standard song length prevails for the rest of the EP.
The walls of thick, warm guitar sounds are filled with your standard pop punk power chords. There's some extra little delicate lead licks almost half buried in the mix tantalisingly teasing the ears and some other more prominent riffs that rise to the forefront. Bringing in some more trad emo-vibes on 'Semi-Prologue', this track is a highlight of the record showcasing their versatility within the genre. With a hint of minor scale and soaring uplifting choruses over the relentless rhythm section, label mates Senses Fail would be proud.
'Tuck' is dynamically excellent, with impressively tight instrumentation getting in an out of the breaks. There's something intensely feel-good about the chord structure and delivery of this track despite the slightly depressing lyrics - "the best years are behind us." With the way things are moving for A/A at the moment, that seems unlikely.
Ending the EP with title track 'Pulling Focus' the band flit between a slower, more melodic vibe for the verses and breakdown before kicking into uplifting and uptempo choruses. With some reflective lyrical content giving listeners something to think about, Action/Adventure have certainly left an exciting impression that befits their name. While this may be their fourth EP it will undoubtedly be a first listen and first introduction to the band for many. Pop punk is a tricky and oversaturated genre to make an impact in since there's so many bands who essentially all sound pretty similar but although there's a few moments of familiar sounding pop-punk tropes, A/A have enough originality and flair to stand out.