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REVIEW - Small Town SINdrome - 'It Only Gets Worse' - (Album - Jab Records)

Grand Rapids, Minnesota band Small Town SINdrome return with second album 'It Only Gets Worse' following on from 2019's 'How This Ends', and if pop-punk is your thing then you'll find this a very enjoyable album indeed. Produced by Pete Steinkopf of The Bouncing Souls (who also appears on a couple of tracks), 'It Only Gets Worse' channels not only the obvious Green Day / Blink 182 influences into its 25 minutes but also a few alternative rock touches - I could detect some Weezer, a little Social Distortion and perhaps even a smidgeon of Buffalo Tom in the band's pleasing, hooky sound. The tunes are well-crafted with sing-along choruses, some nice touches in the arrangements and a generally feel-good ambience that rewards repeated listening.

Opening track 'Tell Me Why' comes in with a great chunky guitar riff (courtesy of Brian Gandy) and boasts some great rhythm playing from John Hakala (the bass playing is particularly impressive throughout the album) and drummer Adam Mahoney, with the first of many great choruses present; who isn't a sucker for a few 'woo-hoos' in their choruses! It's a great way to open the album and leads into the melodic, tight 'To Nothing At All' with its chugging guitars and VERY Green Day feel. The title track - 'It Only Gets Worse' - is next, led in with a short drum shuffle and arpeggiated chords before a driving tune kicks in, interspersed with a heavier bridge, another short, sharp, shock of a guitar solo and skater-punk choruses. 'On My Own' is a little too close to Green Day in the verses but does boast a heavier riff running through the song and some fine backing harmonies in the chorus while 'Insomnia' has some more fine bass playing, chiming guitars, fluid drum fills and veers a little more to the alt-rock side of the band than the usual pop-punk tropes. 'Pretending' packs a quirky beginning, ska-like verses, 'mosh-pit' choruses and a fast 'n' furious arrangement all within its 2:19 duration and the album closes on the best track 'Too Far Gone' which is a belter of a song with great guitarwork, a brilliant chorus and a tune that deserves to be playlisted on every alternative radio show (and a few mainstream ones as well). A great way to end this hugely enjoyable album.

'It Only Gets Worse' takes all the best bits of pop-punk and mixes them with some finely picked 90s and 00s alternative touches to play out as a great album (if a little short!). It's an album to crank-up, jump around to (in your living room and at gigs) and learn the choruses to sing-along with the band. 'It Only Gets Worse' and Small Town SINdrome are an album and band well worth discovering.

'It Only Gets Worse' is out on the 29th October on all the major streaming sites.

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