Heroes for Hire – No Apologies
Record Label: Halfcut / Shock Records
Release Date: September 28th, 2012
With a genre as saturated as pop-punk, it’s really easy for generic bands to make their way to your ears. Fortunately, 2012 has been a very promising year, mainly because the “bigger” names in pop-punk have released records. Well, the newer pop-punk bands, who have released mainly EPs until this year, such as I Call Fives, With the Punches, Forever Came Calling, and Such Gold. Even a few truly big names released records like Yellowcard, Title Fight, and All Time Low. That’s the first problem with Australia’s Heroes for Hire debut record No Apologies; it was released after a “wave” of pop-punk, so to speak. There aren’t many pop-punk records being released now, so ultimately, this record fell to the wayside because of that. Is that Heroes for Hire’s fault? No, not at all, but if this record was released in the first half of 2012, I definitely would’ve paid more attention to this band, because it would’ve been before all those other bands released records. Or it was released in 2013, because it would’ve been released afterwards. Regardless, that’s the main problem with No Apologies; it came out at an unfortunate time, although, that’s not a direct problem with the record, or the band itself. In the case of the band itself, they’re not as popular as other bands in the genre, so that’s why it’s being overshadowed, however, as a pop-punk fan, I’ve heard about these guys for awhile now. I had heard the title track when they first released it, and I was quite intrigued by this band. They had a very “retro” quality about them, and reminded me of older pop-punk bands, mainly the “forefathers” of the genre, like New Found Glory, and Taking Back Sunday. My suspicions proved me correct when their debut record on Halfcut Records was released just a few weeks ago, however, they still have ways to go before they can become one of the new kings of pop-punk.
The record opens with “Rip Out My Guts,” and immediately, it sets the stage for what Heroes for Hire is all about. Sadly, what they’re about is quite generic. That’s not to say this is a terrible album, but that’s the only other problem I had with this album. “Rip Out My Guts” is exactly what you’ll expect throughout the rest of the album – straightforward pop-punk; nothing more and nothing less. While it’s not terrible, it’s still generic. Everything is quite normal for the genre, meaning their vocalist, lyrics, and instrumentation is normal. They’re not terrible, and I really want to stress that, because they really are worth checking out by any pop-punk fan, but they’re still normal for the genre. Vocally, they remind me of a mix between Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low, and Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory. That’s not a bad thing, either, because those are two great vocalists, so if anything, I don’t mind that their vocalist does have a very familiar sound. The only downside to the album being generic is that if you’re looking for any variety, you’re really looking in the wrong place. There aren’t too many places where the album throws any curveballs at the listener. There are lots of enjoyable moments, but the truly memorable ones are few and far between. Title track “No Apologies” doesn’t really do anything differently, but in terms of straightforward pop-punk, this is one of my favorite tracks on the record. Sixth track “Face Without a Name” has guest vocals by Chris Demakes, and that brings a bit of variety to the record, albeit it’s not very much. Another point of variety comes in the form of eleventh track “Nowhere at All,” and it’s the cliché acoustic track that every pop-punk band has. While it does provide some variety, it’s clichéd, nonetheless. I still really like this track, because it has more than just an acoustic guitar. Last song “Lords of Blacktown” features the second guest vocalist in the form of Jeff Todd, who’s the vocalist of New Jersey pop-punks I Call Fives. Ironically, ICF released their self-titled debut record earlier this summer.
Overall, this record is enjoyable, yet generic. Everything is quite cliché for the genre, but it’s not an awful record, by no means. Fans of pop-punk should most likely really like this record, despite it being generic. The only problems I had with that, and how it came out at a rather unfortunate time. That’s not much of a problem as it is just an unfortunate circumstance.
Mate I'll be honest and say I found this review kind of confusing, as you keep telling us the album is generic and unoriginal, but still of high quality. You emphasise this point way too often for me that the description itself becomes generic. However, I'm stoked that you rate the album highly because it's one of my favourite pop punk releases of all time. Coming from an Aussie I try not to be biased but admittedly I do beam with pride over the band's nationality, and I still view the album objectively.
To me Heroes For Hire are easily the best Australian pop punk act currently producing music, and probably up there with the best in the world. I don't need them to be breaking new ground for the genre or doing anything radically different from other bands like them, pop punk has never been about versatility or innovation. It's the only style of music in which I will accept predictability and familiarity because pop punk is a movement, a lifestyle with common values and themes. If a band does the same thing but can do it very well, then they're worthy of note.
Heroes For Hire do it very very well. There is energy, there is passion, there is aggression, there is melody, there is sensitivity, and perhaps most importantly for this genre, there is a keen sense of fun and good times. The word generic should be tossed out when discussing music like this, because it's a given. All that should be assessed is quality, not originality.
When these guys blow up huge, I really hope they don't lose their bearings and turn into Good Charlotte. That would be a tragedy.