I wasn’t into pop punk until the year 2010, when the pop punk revival was in full swing and excellent Canadian and American talent alike was storming a burgeoning scene, attracting thousands to festivals like Pouzzafest and Pop Punk’s Not Dead. But the thing about the revival was that it created an allure over which countless bands would be created in an attempt to get in on the act. The result has seen some good, some great, but mostly mediocre attempts at summoning the spirit of the weed socks and pizza tats variety of punk.

Mace Ballard are one of the latter kinds of bands, an inoffensive offering that simultaneously manages to offer little and innovate less. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? But while the four-man group hailing out of Pittsburgh have been doing their thing since 2009, you wouldn’t know it based on listening to their new EP Lanterns. It feels like more of a debut than a follow-up to their first full-length, one that came out four years prior. Perhaps it is a debut of sorts, as the band seem poised to invest a lot more work into themselves, if their website and Facebook page are any indication.

While it’s great that the band are prepared to invest their time into their approach, their new EP is wanting. The strengths of the album are a fairly dedicated approach to early style pop punk, with clean vocals and fairly strong emo leanings. Repeated listens though don’t offer any parts to give the listener anything of which to gain hold. The majority of the album feels as though it’s a nod to another part in another song that the band once heard.

This doesn’t mean the album is bad; it means it will inevitably gain a few new listeners and perhaps even be right up the alley of a fair number of pop punk enthusiasts. But whatever strength Mace Ballard have (which, paradoxically, is occasionally made apparent in their EP), it’s not in this release that it shines. Perhaps further touring and more of the pressures which make punk so exhilarating in the first place will create further success down the road.

Lanterns Track Listing:

01. Calibrations
02. 1701
03. Layers
04. Aurora
05. Sculptors And Sailors
06. Remnants

Run Time: 21:19
Release Date: July 15, 2016

Check out the trailer for Lanterns