WSTR – ‘Red, Green Or Inbetween’ [Review]

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Pop-punk may be a massively oversaturated genre, but good music remains good music nonetheless. Who could ever get tired of infectious songs that mix darkness with upbeat energy? While there are plenty of bands who stick to a formula in order to sell, there will always be a place for those musicians who use a given genre template to express themselves with raw passion, sincerity, and good humour.

WSTR made a huge impact with their 2015 EP SKRWD, a set of six sick tracks that got them deservedly noticed by fans-in-waiting. Now comes crunch time: Album One, Red, Green Or Inbetween.

I like this album so much that I’m not even going to go back and adjust its title to include an Oxford comma. Having grown up with the likes of Blink 182, New Found Glory, and Sum 41 (as WSTR themselves did), Red, Green Or Inbetween just feels right to me. Alex Tobijanski may have a surname so unfamiliar to me that I decided to copy and paste it from WSTR’s press release rather than risk misspelling it, but he’s a fucking sick bassist.

That is how you lay the foundations for some immense music.

I spent most of my first time listening to this album focused so intently on the bass that I missed out on many of the other elements that make WSTR the perfect modern pop-punk band. Naturally, no punk groove is complete without solid drum work – and Red, Green Or Inbetween boasts plenty of it, and guitarists Danny Swift and Kieren Alder do themselves proud as well. Ultimately, though, the quality of a given pop-punk band tends to depend on the quality of the lyrics.

If you don’t feel moved to sing along to a pop-punk song, it’s a crappy pop-punk song. With WSTR, there’s no worry on that front; in vocalist Sammy Clifford’s words, Red, Green Or Inbetween is “…mainly a breakup album…not a ‘fuck you’ album [but] more a ‘mad at myself’ album”. Thus the stage is set for raw cathartic poetry, the kind WSTR deliver in droves.

For me, the standout highlights have to be Featherweight (because hey…bass); Lonely Smiles (a classic bouncy intro melody, intestine-twisting words); Eastbound & Down (sparkly clean guitars, great harmonies, winning hooks); and Penultimate (one harsh, hectic riot). Beyond that point comes the acoustic-led Punchline, and it’s all done in a barrage of snappy snares, self-deprecating rhyming couplets, and (it can’t be overstated) fucking perfect low-end tones.

Overall, Red, Green Or Inbetween will satisfy pop-punk junkies across the land, sea, air and Internet. Right now, WSTR are straight up winning.

TMMP RATING: 91%

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Posted on 16 January 2017

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