Chuck Schuldiner Project

Friday, August 17, 2012

Taking Hayley-Tricks and Games

Taking Hayley is an explosive pop punk band from England. Their new album Tricks and Games is a stellar slab of what modern pop punk should be. Underneath a layer of perfect production courtesy of Lzr Audi Productions these guys truly rock. With punchy guitar riffs that always seem to pop the band draws you into their sound. While none too brutal they have a certain aggression that can draw in fans of mainstream pop. The thudding bass adds a lot of power to the overall songs. Meanwhile, the crashing drums add a major rock and roll feel to a lot of the music. Lastly, the vocals have a clean and pure feel to them that puts them in the epitome of the pop-punk genre. All in all, Taking Hayley knows what they want to do, and they execute perfectly. These guys are true pop punk lords, with the strength to become really huge, really fast.
The guitar playing on this record is pretty typical of the genre, but these guys manage to execute it perfectly. So many modern pop punk bands have weak riffs that aren't punchy or well executed at all. But this band does. Guitarist Levi Keeling definitely knows how to make some really cool compositions. There is also an interesting acoustic side to this record which means that the standard pop punk riffs don't ever get boring. Instead he keeps everything interesting and makes you want more. His style of riffing is at once very pop punk, but also wholly his own. He adds a very distinct flavor to the band I think that very few guitarists can imitate the sheer bounciness of his playing. His music is made even more profound with the excellent production which makes sure that all his riffs are crystal clear. So all in all, the guitar on this record is a lot of fun to listen too, and while not overly complex there is a certain happy energy here that will keep you listening and having fun.
The bass work on this record is very solid. There is a certain power to be had in this groups bassist lines. He adds a very solid beat that creates a powerful pop feel in songs like Up All Night. His playing makes everything fit for the club. At the same time he adds a layer of aggression that gives this band a bit more of an edge than many other pop punk acts. The drumming is very solid and also rather poppish. However there are a lot of rock and roll fills to be had here as well. The crashing drum attacks on heavier tracks are some of my favorite parts on this record. It adds almost a Meg White feel to a lot of the songs and makes them feel almost garage rock-ish. I would like to say that I really like the place that the rhythm work has in the mix, it makes the music a bit edgier than your standard pop punk track. In brief, this bands rhythm section is very solid and can truly get a pop feel down pat, but aren't afraid to go into full out rock and roll insanity.
Finally we have the vocals. With a very clean and well produced tone this singer screams mainstream rock. His voice often has a certain whiny quality to it that makes it sound like the singer is hurting, this really makes the music profound on sad tracks like Here I Stand or Better Luck Next Time. The whiny quality makes things seem more passionate as a whole. At the same time some of the hooks remind me a lot of My Chemical Romance's lead singer Gerard Way. I really like how his voice soars over top of the instrumentalists in the mix of this record. It shows off the true power of the singing of Alistair Keenan. His lyrics are often rather sad and about lost love and break ups. Other times there are songs that are about new love or parties. All in all, pretty standard pop punk fair. Most fans of the genre will not be disappointed at all.
In conclusion, Taking Hayley has produced a simply awesome piece of pop punk that any fan of the genre (and many non-fans) can find enjoyable and worth multiple listens. The music here is very hooky and very fun. The guitar work is juicy and filled with a punchy magic that will keep you on your toes. The bass is thudding but also punchy. It adds a major pop feel to a lot of the playing. Meanwhile the drums have a major rock influence and give things a bit more of a mainstream rock taste. Last of all the singing is perfect and really shows how awesome pop punk singing can really be. So go check out their new album Tricks and Games, you won't regret it!

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