April 15, 2016

Summer Wars – Acoustic EP

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Stepping away from their raw, energy-infused pop-punk sensibility, Summer Wars starts 2016 with Acoustic EP, an acoustic version of their debut EP, Better Days. Full disclosure: I listened to the acoustic EP before the debut EP, however, I feel confident in knowing both of them quite well now.

Acoustic pop-punk is always a mixed bag. It can come off brilliantly and add more depth to their original counterparts or be a piss-poor rendition that feels phoned in. Thankfully Summer Wars falls into the former category. “Effortless” is the first full-track to backup my statement. An argument could be made that it rivals its counterpart and even exceeds it in some aspects. The energy and spirit of the original are present but the acoustic packs a heartier emotional impact.  Title track, “Better Days” anchors the EP’s emotional lyrics and reminds us it’s okay to vent with lines like, “I’m not mad, I’m just bitter.” The additional track, “Live Defeated” works on all levels. It pulls out all the stops with beautiful guitar leads echoing throughout the verses, a dash of piano and the soft roll of some thunder rod drum sticks. If an acoustic album could have an anthem, “Live Defeated” would be it.

The production is crisp. The acoustics are full, vibrant, and blend well with scattered bits of smooth electric guitar licks throughout. Acoustic EP finds itself balancing a healthy dose of upbeat acoustic chords with some dire lyrics. On first listen it requires a double take. Vocalist Tripp Rowe tackles sensitive topics of growing up and out of relationships with a coating of lightheartedness throughout the tracks. Honestly, Better Days works just as well acoustically, if not better, than with the full band. The tone feels melancholic rather than traditionally angsty. Good acoustic EPs add more depth to their songs and can tell different stories. Better Days Acoustic EP goes above and beyond in that respect.

Rating: 8/10

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