Summer is the season of pop punk. Sadly, almost everyone’s favorite part of the year seems quite a bit different in the middle of a pandemic. Thankfully, some of our go-to pop-punk bands are fresh off quality releases that rival their earlier work.
If you’re still nostalgic for the 2000s, lend your ear to these tunes released within the past few years. You’ll find them as catchy as those glory days’ soundtracks, performed by artists who don’t seem to age out of their prime. You may not be able to blast these tracks at a beach or basement party surrounded by dozens of friends, but they will surely make your bleak quarantined life a little more enjoyable.
All Time Low- “Some Kind Of Disaster”
“Some Kind Of Disaster” slowly dips its toes into greatness by taking an intro, two verses and two choruses to warm up. But its bridge smacks like something from All Time Low’s So Wrong, It’s Right days. The pace change sets the tone for Wake Up, Sunshine, a project that frequently taps into their pop-punk roots. Released near the coronavirus pandemic’s onset, the album was musical dopamine at a time needed most. “Some Kind Of Disaster” is a standout track that rivals the Maryland native’s early work.
Green Day- “Sugar Youth”
Green Day’s new album Father Of All Motherfuckers is mellowed to the level of Foster The People. There are moments where it’s fair to question if you’re even listening to Billie Joe Armstrong. But “Sugar Youth” smashes like something off American Idiot with a catchy, multipart chorus. The line “I got the shakes and I’m on fire” bounces over a Joan Jett-like guitar riff. The part where Armstrong sings “I don’t wanna be a Romeo” is meshed with a more traditional pop-punk drum beat. And like many Green Day hits, there’s a splash of darkness in the lines “I wanna drink all the poison in the water/I wanna choke like a dog that’s on a collar.”
New Found Glory- “Stay Awhile”
Remember listening to Sticks And Stones for the first time? You get the same high blasting “Stay Awhile” on your smartphone. “Stay Awhile” naturally sounds like an old-school New Found Glory song. While the band have pumped out plenty of bangers since the Catalyst days, “Stay Awhile” might be the first tune that sounds like it truly belongs on an early 2000s NFG album. It’s not the only standout track on their solid recent release, Forever + Ever X Infinity, but it’s certainly the most throwback-worthy.
blink-182- “Pin The Grenade”
“Pin The Grenade” is a pleasant breath of fresh pop-punk air on an emotionally satisfying, yet at times awkwardly experimental, blink-182 album. With the help of the popular songwriting duo the Futuristics, the track hits with an ultra-catchy chorus. It gives Travis Barker room to run wild while allowing Mark Hoppus and Matt Skiba to play to their strengths. It’s probably the punkiest song on NINE, which permitted the newest version of the blink trio to flex their versatility. But it’s sometimes nice to listen to something you know. That’s “Pin The Grenade.”
Fall Out Boy- “Dear Future Self (Hands Up)” (feat. Wyclef Jean)
Who would have thought Fall Out Boy’s collaboration with Wyclef Jean would yield such a banger? Truly, opposites attract in a song that feels like a return to the band’s Infinity On High days. Released in anticipation of the Hella Mega tour with Green Day and Weezer, “Dear Future Self” paces like an old-school FOB tune and is better written than their more current tracks. If there’s one complaint, it’s that the song lacks the heavy power chords of their first few albums.
Sum 41- “Never There”
Hollywood, if you’re reading this, please do a biopic on Sum 41 lead singer Deryck Whibley. After a failed marriage to megastar Avril Lavigne and years of eviscerating his liver, alcoholism nearly took Whibley’s life in 2014. But the pop-punk phoenix rose from the ashes to return to the stage, crafting two masterful albums alongside his Sum 41 bandmates. While 2019’s Order In Decline was much more rock the pop punk, “Never There” sounds like some of the great slow jams from Chuck and Underclass Hero. Fans empathized most with the song’s theme: Whibley’s nonexistent relationship with his father. While the vocalist grasped at the subject in prior songs, this is the first time he really zeroes in on the topic. It’s a crushing yet brilliant track that belongs at the top of Sum 41’s discography.
Hayley Williams- “Simmer”
Stylistically, Hayley Williams’ solo project sounds nearly nothing like her work with Paramore. But nothing christened by her angelic voice lacks quality. “Simmer” off her debut solo album Petals For Armor maneuvers between eerie and cheery, with Williams effortlessly changing paces and vocal levels like the seasoned veteran she is. The atmospheric tune is mesmerizing, entrancing listeners into hitting repeat.
Jimmy Eat World- “Surviving”
Are we sure Jim Adkins even ages? Few would be surprised if the Jimmy Eat World singer admitted that, years ago, he ditched the band on a worldwide tour to bathe in the Fountain of Youth. The band nearly mirror their sound from the early 2000s heyday with their new album, Surviving. The title track, however, stands out as a tune that builds behind enticing guitar riffs into an anthemic finish. It’s a clean, uplifting song that brings listeners back into the familiar Jimmy Eat World universe. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised at their consistency considering they’ve had the same core members since the mid-’90s.
The best songs from seasoned bands often sound like their prime material but are also topical. That’s “Worries” from MxPx. It drives like their 1996 album Life In General or even 2007’s Secret Weapon. That’s on brand for MxPx—their sound rarely wavers. But “Worries” is a lyrical adrenaline rush. Without overburdening itself with political specifics, it touches on the heightened anxiety many of us face in the midst of a health pandemic, economic collapse and a positive social movement met with resistance: “I know you’ve got a lot of worries/And you know I’ve got a lot of worries.” Ain’t that the truth.