Animal Style Records
Release date: November 6, 2015
While you can’t judge a book by its cover, sometimes you can judge a band by its name, or at least get an early glimpse of what you might hear on their release. New Jersey band Puddle Splasher has a fun name, and a delivery to match. You may think, “wait, I heard Puddle Splasher is emo! Emo isn’t fun!” Well, emo they are, and Missed Connections is one of the few albums I would classify as good time emo. A bit of a 1990s throwback, Puddle Splasher takes the vintage emo sound of Sunny Day Real Estate and mixes in a bit of Harvey Danger or Blur style alt rock for a fun collection of songs that mixes all the bleeding heart glory of emo with the appeal of driving rock.
Opening track “Rotting Heart” opens in clear Sunny Day Real Estate territory, with chiming guitars and a somber vocal delivery. Right around the one minute mark the band breaks forth into an alt-rock anthem. Immediately thoughts of some of Harvey Danger’s lost gems spring to mind. The following track, “Forget My Name,” takes the rock motif even further, coming in somewhere between Blur style alternative and Pink Spiders style retro rock. This song is so catchy it may have been what wiped out humanity in Stephen King’s “The Stand.” Once Puddle Splasher gets into their rock groove there’s no stopping the energy emitting from your speakers. Even this song remains within the emo neighborhood but becomes the house that has been painted bright orange that you just can’t miss when driving by.
The remaining two tracks on this EP edge a bit into Brit pop area. “Gentle Rain” boasts guitars that are reminiscent of early Jets To Brazil, while offering a melody that could easily have been stolen from Oasis. Vocally, there’s even a bit of Liam Gallagher going on in both the tone and delivery, further expanding the comparisons to Britains radio darlings of the 1990s. Closing track “Behind The Wheel” sounds like a dark outtake from Blur right up until the last few moments, where the tone turns even more ominous. The band slows the pace down until the energy turns from driving rock to a sludgy, dark emo churning. It’s almost as if this ending was an afterthought, allowing Missed Connections to be bookended in emo fashion, trapping all the fun in between. The chiming guitars and flowing vocals hearken back to the end of the last century, but the delivery and production are clearly up to current standards.
I have seen a lot of reviews of Puddle Splasher that would relegate the band to another emo band aping 90's sounds in the current emo revival scene. There are a lot of bands around that are clearly doing just that, but I wouldn’t be quick to add this release to that ever growing pile. Missed Connections shows how emo and pop can be melded to create an alloy that’s stronger than either individually. It’s about time the world has an emo album that brings a bit of fun into the equation while still giving out the classic vibe that brought fans to the genre in the first place. Puddle Splasher accomplishes all this and more in under thirteen minutes.
Reviewed by Jim 1340