Major League - Hard Feelings
Record Label: No Sleep
Release Date: Nov. 13, 2012
Stop me if you've heard this one before, because I certainly have. Hard Feelings is Major League's debut full-length on No Sleep Records. After the EPs and demos that Major League released in previous years, the band clearly showed a great deal of promise. Unfortunately, Major League has failed to realize that potential and has instead laid a stinker of such blatantly derivative pop-punk cliches that it's nearly a parody on the genre.
Everything you'd expect from a modern scene pop-punk band is present on this album, lyrical themes you've heard before, obvious song structure, little to no creativity. There's nothing wrong with doing the same thing that's been done before if it's done with unashamed bravado or if it's tongue-in-cheek, but there's nothing new at all here, and it appears the band is proud of it. There's no question that many fans who live and die by scene-fueled pop-punk will eat this up, but the lasting value for those who have moved past those years and desire to hear something at least a little different is miniscule.
It's not to say that Hard Feelings is a truly terrible record, because it isn't. The production is solid, the vocals are decent, and while some of the lyrics are often eye-rolling, they are representative of a genre which the band has no interest in re-inventing. It's a disappointment to see a band with obvious skills in songwriting choose to do something so played out at this stage in the genre, but they certainly have achieved what they have set out to do. At the risk of repeating myself, this is another one of those formulaic "best-of" pop-punk albums that I have grown terribly weary of listening to.
Major League is at their best when they are pushing the tempo aggressively. "Arrows Crossed," the album's strongest track, does brings some fond back memories with call and response vocals and a blistering pace. It's one of the rare moments on Hard Feelings where you can pinpoint the band as actually sounding like Major League and not somebody else. "Landslide" is a solid song with an infectious chorus. It comes down this - if you want to listen to music exactly like this, you'd be better off pulling out those albums from years past and listening to them because they're probably better, and you'll have an emotional attachment to them. Hard Feelings is ultimately hollow because it lacks any real personality of its own.
The band says that "things may be different now, but we're still the same" on "Twenty Seven." It's true, and all it results in is a boring, re-hashed clunker in a genre that already struggles with everything sounding the same. Later, in "Homewrecker", they say "I'll prove we're not the same." It seems clear which path the band has decided to follow.
I see what you're saying and you make good points, but it doesn't bother me that these pop-punk bands aren't ground-breakingly different.
For me a band doesn't have to be ground-breakingly different at all. Just having something that makes you unique or an individual. This album is largely indistinguishable, and very few of the best things about the genre.