December 06, 2011 - Panic
Young English are at a crossroads with I Hate My Friends, their debut EP for Panic Records, Much of it is generic (though admittedly competent) pop-punk, but sprinkled in are welcomed doses of more thoughtful, emotional rock. Take the opening 23 seconds of the first track, "Neighbors": There's a nimble and urgent tumble of guitars and drums that sounds like it's the beginning to something wonderful, but when vocalist/guitarist Chris Pennings kicks in, everything suddenly feels a little dumbed-down. The singing's at a grainy higher register and the music's more basic and choppy. But then there's the swaying twinkle in the bridge, which is a nice touch.
The rest of the EP largely follows the same route: middle-of-the-road, inoffensive pop-punk occasionally made so much better by something as simple as a more inventive guitar lick or tonal change (see: the bridge of "New England"). The way Pennings strains through the second half of closer "I Knew You Once" sounds like a cross between the Starting Line's Kenny Vasoli and the Ataris' Kris Roe; frankly, Young English would do well to follow either band's post-pop-punk era and flex their creative muscle as often as possible.