Review: The Starting Line, ‘Anyways’
Written by Zac Djamoos
“Well, I’ve been given a lot of time,” sings Kenny Vasoli at the start of “Anyways,” the first song on The Starting Line’s new EP, ‘Anyways.’ And he’s right; when they streamed it back in December, it was the first new studio recording we’d heard from the band in eight years. When the EP comes out later this week, it’ll have been nine. The band left the scene with their masterpiece, the disgustingly underrated ‘Direction,’ a mix of the band’s early, New Found Glory style pop-punk, the darker take on the genre they’d experimented with on the album prior, and a host of new sounds – straight-up pop music, anthemic rock, even the tropical “Island.” Although they’d been hinting at new material since 2009, this is the only thing we’ve heard yet.
And yeah, it was worth the wait. Immediately, “Anyways”’ fuzzy riff calls to mind the crunchy opening of “Direction.” It becomes clear about as soon as Vasoli sings the first line that this is exactly how the follow-up to ‘Direction’ would’ve sounded. Synths pop in during the song’s second verse, reappearing during its final hook, which, for any other band, would’ve been the most massively memorable chorus in their discography, but ends up not even being the best on ‘Anyways.’
The most straightforward pop-punk song is next, and it’s called “Quitter.” Even still, Vasoli’s vocals are perfect for this genre, and again, Brian Schmutz’s keyboard makes this song stand out amongst songs by the new wave of pop-punk bands. This song will please fans of songs like “21” and “Autography” from previous albums. But the real gem here is “Luck,” the EP’s third and final song.
We’ve been familiar with “Luck” for a while now, as it’s been played live since 2010. But a live debut could never stack up to the recorded version, which at once feels like a classic Starting Line track. From the drum fill before the chorus, to the “ooh-ooh”s in the bridge – even the song’s catchy opening riff feels like vintage Starting Line. This is all compounded into the song’s remarkable chorus, in which Vasoli shouts, “On hard times/waiting for all our luck to turn/somehow it is.” The first time he sings it it becomes one of the band’s best moments, and those lines feel like a rallying cry for Starting Line fans. Even if this the last thing we hear from this band, it feels complete; it’s something for fans. It’s the ideal continuation of the band’s last sound. But is it the band’s perfect swan song?
Somehow, it is.