Artist: Sell Your Sky
Album: Two Years – EP
Every so often, surprises happen—things jump forth from places and people where you would least expect them to rise above the ordinary. Batman—or Bruce Wayne—is one of my favorite examples. Among the masses of nameless, faceless corporate executives, there lies one man who has ability to change the direction of an entire city (and some would argue, an entire nation). This man, rather than rising from years upon years of government funded military training or superhuman genetic splicing, rather, jumps forth from…well, the ‘burbs. In the same way, Sell Your Sky leap forth from the oversaturated and densely populated genre of pop punk to chuck a perfectly aimed proverbial batarang at the listener’s ears—the batarang in question being Two Years, a short but sublime collection of tracks that have everything it takes to become a series of pop-punk anthems. From the upbeat, energetic strumming of chords and belting of syllables to the mellow, slow-and-steady ballad-like portions that pluck at the listeners heartstrings, Two Years has it all—wrapped up in a neat, tidy package for the listener to enjoy.
Sell Your Sky attack pop-punk with a Janus-like approach; with one side of their multifaceted dynamic being focused entirely on energy. Two Years is home to some of the genre’s most frantic and frenzied displays of angst the listener will have ever heard. “Jack Torrance” opens with a jumble of lightning-speed strummed chords and punchy, bouncy instrumentation—following the lead from latter portions of “Temporary” and the dancey, bouncy introductory track “Upstate.” These tracks (and portions of tracks) combine furiously-fretted and rapidly picked chords and riffs splashed across a canvas of incessant, pummeling percussion and emotionally-fueled, angst-ridden belted vocals. The result? A teenage feeling so pure it might as well be puberty all over again—as the energy present reeks of late-night hangouts with your best friends from high school, and even later nights spent waiting up, staring at the telephone and hoping to hear from her (or him). “Astoria” displays this perfectly—compiling intense and emotive lyrics against colorful, bouncy instrumentation to craft a musical hook that the listener is bound to eat up like a fish attracted to a worm.
“Astoria,” as well as the bi-polar “Temporary” showcase the other side to Sell Your Sky—a side less prominently displayed but just as potent. Both of these tracks feature slightly more low-key portions where the lyrics and bass-heavy atmosphere rise above the frantic guitar work and shouted vocals. “Astoria,” while never slowing down to a true crawl, has several lulls where the listener is caught completely off guard by the other-worldly levels of emotion pouring forth from wordsmith Aaron Tiley. While “Astoria” and “Temporary” make limited use of this approach to compliment the otherwise speed-soaked and mile-a-minute style of pop punk seen on Two Years, “Two Years Away” takes it down several notches—employing a more true-to-form pop-punk ballad style with layered vocals and lyrics that anyone with a soul and a heart to fuel it will relate to. What makes “Two Years Away” a truly beautiful example of a pop-punk ballad perfectly done is that the percussion remains bouncy and toe-tapping, and the fretwork is never boring or dull—simply fluid and rhythmic. Underneath it all, the bass toils away, making sure something keeps the track anchored to the album’s firmament, providing a constant low end.
Putting these two halves together makes something much larger than a simple whole. Rather, Two Years is a comprehensive compilation of pop-punk dynamics and styles—combining the slow and emotionally overloaded the listener needs for substance with the fast-and-furious energy the listener needs to get them hooked. Again, the listener will turn to “Astoria” and “Two Years Away” time and time again, as perfectly executed examples of perfunctory pop-punk song writing. The simple truth is that, while Two Years feels Too Short, it is still full-bodied and well rounded, taking the listener on a complete tour of everything the genre has to offer, without going through the “motions” in the slightest. Instead, Sell Your Sky take the listener through emotions, whether its joy and laughter, bliss and peace or angst and heartbreak—there are snippets and tidbits of each in every second of the EP, blended perfectly to avoid density or empty spots.
True enough, Two Years doesn’t really do anything new. There isn’t the heart-throb, next-best-vocalist ever, or a collection of super-shreddy, stellar riffs to be had. But what is done on Two Years is done perfectly—Sell Your Sky provide the listener with a brief, brilliant example of emotionally compromising, energetic and angsty pop-punk that will tickle the fancy of any fan of the genre—as well as perhaps garner a few new appreciative ears to boot.
For Fans Of: Neck Deep, Seaway, Title Fight, Capsize
By: Connor Welsh