The tendency to try and be something you’re not is a constant in pop punk, with many bands blending in metal with disastrous results like A Day To Remember, or others like All Time Low focusing more on the pop side of things and ending up gimmicky and cheesy. The genre is swiftly losing its punk edge in exchange for mass-market appeal.
With their very first full-length album, Portland’s own Steiner Street decided to change this now all-too-common shortcoming. Time and Temperature is short, fast and furious — eight tracks blown through in 25 minutes — and everything that a great pop-punk album should be.
Although the subject matter of Time & Temperature isn’t exactly groundbreaking, Steiner Street keeps it fresh by discussing real life issues, like anxiety and and relationship problems with an utter conviction rarely heard from other bands under the pop-punk banner
In the remarkably fresh “Fish in a Barrel,” vocalist/guitarist Eric Cyr yells, “You can’t just move away, and think everything’s gonna change/ You’ll realize you’re to blame/ These are the things I need to say.” There’s an honest and to-the-point bluntness about the lyrics that sets them apart from most pop-punk cheese, as intricate leads over lightning-quick guitar chords and pounding drums make this an aggressively-catchy success.
Later, on the album’s closer, “Quite Literally The Drink That Killed Him,” a slower, melodic build gives way to a blasting tale of broken friendships. “You know, I thought you were my friend, but I know how this story ends/ You pushed me further than I could ever bend.” Cyr’s desperate pleas are perfected as the rest of the band chimes in to finish the line. The track follows the traditional formula of fast-paced power chords and bass lines, with drummer Mike Sajecki’s furious pounding, giving it an intensity that makes it a perfect finale to the album.
It’s important to clarify that though Steiner Street isn’t exactly defying any genres, they are certainly protecting one. Steiner Street stops short of the fart and sex jokes of ’90’s Blink-182. By having more in common with Brand New’s Your Favorite Weapon, Steiner Street has made pop-punk pure again. Fast power chords, gang choruses and Mrs. Doubtfire references galore — it’s all there. With their recent signing to indie-startup label Third Time Lucky Rekords, Time and Temperature will surely find its way into the ears of fans nationwide. It would be foolish not to check it out.