By Cheyenne Heaslet
Artist: The Starting Line
Album: Anyways EP
Label: Downtown Records
Release Date: February 18, 2016
Anyone familiar with the pop-punk explosion of the mid-2000s will no doubt remember The Starting Line. Whether from the fresh-faced pop of “The Best of Me” or the infectious vibes of “Island,” it was hard not to form an opinion on the then-young Pennsylvania quartet. While putting out some of the most consistently great pop-punk albums of the time, The Starting Line always appeared just on the verge of breaking into the mainstream. Their debut album, 2003’s Say It Like You Mean It, was pop perfection and even had a couple singles garnering buzz on MTV and Fuse. Based On A True Story, the follow-up, was a divisive, yet creatively bold effort that showed potential to move past their contemporaries. The last we saw of them was 2007’s Direction, the master class in pop-rock songwriting that kept fans pleading for more. However, after nearly nine years (and one amazing side project,) it seemed safe to assume that The Starting Line had quietly met its end. Fear not, pop-punk enthusiasts, the wait is over. Ken Vasoli and The Starting Line have returned with the EP, Anyways, a release that not only returns the veterans to form but also serves to remind the listener of their unique sound and why it was, and is, their own.
The songs on Anyways could be viewed as The Starting Line checklist, as nearly all their signature moves are are covered. But for long time listeners, it feels more like a trip down memory lane. The title track is a charming pop opener that immediately hooks. With familiar crunchy guitars, punched up drums and a heavy chorus, “Anyways” could have easily fit within the tracklist of Direction. The same could be said for “Quitters,” a circle-pit led jam that blends the pop-punk sensibilities of their debut with the guitar rock that has been present since then. The highlight of the EP is closer “Luck,” a heartfelt look to the band’s past and present that showcases The Starting Line’s undeniable talent for great guitar and vocal work sealed with a memorable chorus.
The Anyways EP is The Starting Line checking in on us, making sure we’re okay and still up for more. Yes, its short length doesn’t manage to whet the appetite completely, but being made aware the appetite still exists is more than enough fuel needed to wait for a proper full length. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait nine years.