What if there’s a parallel universe where late ’90s pop punk never died? We’re not just talking about a place where Green Day is universally adored, but one where SR-71 and The Ataris outlasted their footnote status, where the fact that Wheatus continues to release music wouldn’t be something you’ll feel the need to double-check immediately after reading this sentence. New Jersey’s Major League open a door into that alternate dimension with their debut album, Hard Feelings, and it’ll offer consolation to some and a desire to quietly shut the door to others.
Barring any time rifts or portals opening any time soon, the reality we have is one in which pop punk has largely faded into memory. But with the shouted lyrics of “Walk Away” covering relationship difficulties (“I never thought I’d hear you say/ if you loved me you would let me go”) over crunchy, simple chord progressions, its like the wafting smell of burnt Sbarro pepperoni lives again in the perpetual mall food court of the mind. “Things may be different now/ but we’re still the same,” Nick Trask calls on “Twenty Seven”.
But there are plenty of people who find pop punk entirely in their wheelhouse, whether they’re teenagers, in some stage of arrested development, or refuse to let go of the genre’s appeal. And for those individuals, the daggering guitar lines of “Arrows Crossed” and the start-stop anthemic angst of “Home Wreckers” will do the trick, fitting into CD booklets stashed under car seats across the country. Hard Feelings fits into the genre so perfectly rather than offering any new angle, or defying expectations, or even matching the stalwarts of the genre itself. Rather, it’s content to offer a good example of something directly to the people that want exactly that thing.
Essential Tracks: “Arrows Crossed”, “Walk Away”