NANTICOKE — Send Request is back with their second album, “Make Your Move” – a quick follow-up to 2014’s debut EP, “Beyond The Ordinary.” Much like their first stab at original music, the new tunes follow a delightfully bright and boisterous formula of sing-a-long saccharine anthems and filler-free guitar crunchers.
Since their 2013 inception, the Nanticoke-based band — comprised of lead vocalist/guitarist Andrew Blank, guitarist Derek Holminski, bassist Aaron Wood, and drummer Jon Labenski — is seemingly able to thrive on an endless hook – a veritable toxicity of benevolent bubblegum that will literally turn your bad day on its ear; the stuff’s that enjoyable. The album’s eight cuts are rapid-fire fun, and the listen is short enough to warrant making sure the repeat icon on your iPod is in proper working order – the major-label production value on an indie dime doesn’t hurt either.
Able to sit alongside such candy-coated works of youthful rebellion like Simple Plan’s best, with the firmly melodic vocal grip of bands like New Found Glory, and even throwing a line to harken back to the playfully aggro merriment of Sum 41, Send Request’s music is not so much a snub to authority as it is a celebration of everything that can come from the fruits of living life to the fullest – embracing who you are and running hard with it. Call it power-pop, power-punk, or just great, melodic three-chord rock ‘n roll (there are actually a few more than that) played without any inhibition of false posturing, this music lives unashamedly in the now.
Tracks like “Over and Over (Outta My Head)” tread territory mined by bands like Bowling For Soup, with a less-gimmicky approach – instead lyrically focusing on the innocence of young love’s curiosity, and the maturation of realization that what once was a crush can evolve into something real – rising above the “cool kids on their cell phones, trying to get someone of their own.”
The track’s impulsive twist on coming-of-age hookups segues from verse to chorus effortlessly in punk ethos, driven by Holminski’s surging guitars, with a bombastic vocal crescendo that never seems to come back down – there is not a single hiccup to interrupt the flow in this band’s writing style.
“Make Your Move” makes the best use of the “whoa-whoa” lyric since Black Veil Brides, so prevalent in the pop-punk and metalcore-light genres these days – here coming off as Blank’s infectious nod to the Good Charlotte school of songwriting vocabulary.
Send Request can pull off a multitude of phrasing that may seem passé or hokey to another band, and this is one of ‘em. With a rhythmic motivation from the lock-step tandem that is Labenski and Wood, and cut from the same musical cloth that makes the kids bounce in a sea of unison at Warped tours, when Blank sings “dancing on the ceiling, keep on dreaming – it’s time to make your move,” you can’t help but get caught up in the stars in his eyes and infinite possibility in his inflection.
“I Quit” is one of the true standouts on the album – featuring some of the thickest walls of guitar and well-structured songsmithing. Perhaps one of the more “introspective” pieces here, examining the perceived complexities of a relationship when neither side will budge, there’s a hint of melancholy here and it’s felt in the performance. Blank advocates getting up and moving on, past a stagnant point where hope’s been exhausted and a foul taste if left behind (“I don’t ever wanna fall in love, never ever will I talk that up”), and if “forever” is long enough to know “what I ever saw in you” – simple, direct, speaking to and of the heart.
An interesting inclusion is a cover of the Wheatus track “Teenage Dirtbag.” The song is a bit of a departure from the feel of the rest of the album, with record-scratching intro and acoustic guitar underneath the verses, before the deliberately awkward sneering chorus of “I’m just a teenage dirtbag, baby, listen to Iron Maiden, maybe” kicks in. Perhaps a glimpse into Send Request’s influences, the track ends the album on an appropriately lighthearted note – furthering the fact that a dull moment can’t be found anywhere in this band’s canon.
Able to embody the sheer immediacy of musical simplicity , Send Request’s music equates to total listener impact; this is music that will stick to your gut at the deepest level. “Make Your Move” is packaged youth – vital, wide-eyed, and overflowing with audacity — a revitalizing ride no matter your age.
Mark is a Northeast Pennsylvania-based music journalist who’s enjoyed interviewing legends like members of Iron Maiden, The E-Street Band, and Hall & Oates, right down to the garage band next door - intrigued by a great musical story on any level.