Pretend to Care – Hemingway

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Every pop-punk band and pretty much anything that sounds like pop-punk is hit-or-miss for me. As time wears on, the genre grows increasingly oversaturated by bands singing about the same things. It is hard to tell them apart from one another; there is an apparent lack of creativity running through the genre.

As much as it pains me to say (I played drums in a pop-punk band for a year-and-a-half), there is always a black sheep. I’m talking about Hemingway. While I wouldn’t classify Hemingway as cookie cutter, I-want-to-leave-this-town pop-punk, they share some less egregious similarities. The biggest difference is that Hemingway doesn’t share the scene’s familiar skateboards-and-summer-nights formula.

In October, Hemingway released Pretend to Care, their emo-tinged debut record. It’s a shame I’m learning about this record three months later because it would have enjoyed some serious play time, although my play count proves I’m making up for the lost time now.

The opening track on Pretend to Care, “Constellations,” sets the bar high for the rest of the record. On “Constellations,” Hemingway flawlessly displays their musicianship; the lead at the beginning of this song is one of my favorites in a long time. From the moment it catches your ear, you are hooked.

However, “Constellations” also demonstrates one of the largest issues I have with Pretend to Care. The vocals are entirely inconsistent, wavering between a softer, melodic voice and one considerably more abrasive and scream-like – think emo bands like Modern Base (a band which is definitely not my cup of tea). While the more abrasive singing style is not used in every song, when it is used, it distracts from the otherwise great quality of the album.

My favorite song on the record is “Love Fades.” While it is an instrumental song, that is not the reason I liked it so much. The song, for me, created a sense of being alone. Couple this with the name of the song, and it showed the true genius of Hemingway.

I hope the rest of the pop-punk scene takes a lesson from Hemingway and this band gets a lot more attention soon, because there is a lot of talent here that really deserves to be recognized. I look forward to hearing more from this band at some point in the future.

Rating: 3/5 H’s



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