Transparency is the big contender for sure-fire underground punk rock hit of the year. It comes armed to the teeth with pit-inducing riffs and a cross-over appeal that bridges the nasal tones of pop-punk and the focused aggression of hardcore. The Boston-based punk trio of Ivy League have successfully melded together everyone’s favourite bits of two of punk’s most contemporarily popular sub-genres into one wholly unoriginal yet still enticingly visceral little gem of an album. Crammed into its brief running time are eleven blistering punk exultations, each song a flurry of energy perfect for stage-dives with enough melody bleeding through the propulsive punk for some serious sing-along potential.
Gone are the band’s previous ramshackle tendencies accentuated by an endearingly rough-hewn production. Now, bolstered by a fuller sound and pop-punk sheen courtesy of contemporary pop-punk’s go-to producer Paul Miner, Transparency showcases Ivy League as a ‘proper’ and fully rounded prospect.
Comparisons to acts such as The Story So Far as well as a host of American punk acts (Title Fight etc.) are inevitable, with Ivy League joining a swelling scene of sound-a-likes, each possessing a particular fondness for laying their emotional grievances on the table over fast-as-fuck tempos. There’s little on Transparency to mark Ivy League as a fully unique act amongst a vast diaspora of bands who proliferate minute nuances on the same basic idea, yet the conviction instantly tangible in the vocalist’s quasi-melodic bite coupled with the sheer unadulterated energy that oozes from every pore of the record, marks it as one of the finest executions of the style in question. The guitar lines such as that which make up the joyous instrumental nugget ‘Egress’ are daftly catchy whilst the intense power chord crunch that makes up the base of most tracks has enough volatility to garner the appeal of the pickiest of hardcore kids. ‘All My Skeletons’ features a melodramatic yet interesting closing passage- hushed backing vocals offering a rare break from the group’s potent charging energy in. What’s more, to top it all off, the lyrics are jostling to become the Tumblr fodder of many an awkward teen.
Ivy League have done nothing to advance the ageing sub-genre of pop-punk, they simply enact the tender lyric/hostile instrumentation juxtaposition with more finesse and intensity than most. Despite Transparency being a thoroughly enjoyable listen, the three plucky lads will have to dig deep in future and discover musical pathways yet to be explored otherwise they are destined to remain as a second-tier act.
4 out of 5 high fives!