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Album Review: Punk Goes Pop Volume 4

Another year, another 'Punk Goes...' compilation album. What used to be a collection of authentic punk artists providing meaningful cover songs has gradually become Fearless Records’ chance to showcase their roster and reaping the benefits by having them cover successful (but mostly soulless) pop songs. 'Punk Goes Acoustic' made way for the cringe-worthy 'Punk Goes Crunk' and the fail safe 'Punk Goes Pop', the fourth volume of which we are currently being gifted with.

As far as contemporary genre definitions go, what Fearless are selling as pop-punk bares closer roots to pop history than it does with punk which means that, effectively, many of these covers don’t stray very far from their original versions. Pierce The Veil’s ‘Just The Way You Are’ contains the essential texture and feel of Bruno Mars’ twinkly-voiced ballad with added distortion and a truly irrelevant breakdown. Woe, Is Me add growls and other screeches to Katy Perry’s ‘Last Friday Night’. For the better half of I See Stars’ cover of Britney Spears’ ‘Til The World Ends’, the casual listener will have trouble distinguishing instrumentals between one and the other.

However, not all efforts are fruitless and the few occurrences where the band have a go at adding an original element actually turn in some decent moments. Tonight Alive’s feminine vocal textures and cascading riffs brings a healthy dose of fun to Mumford & Sons’ beige-tinged ‘Little Lion Man', while Sleeping With Sirens add some relevant teenage angst to the message in Cee-Lo Green’s ‘Fuck You’. The biggest credit should go to Silverstein for their brave undertaking of the whole 8 minutes of Kanye West’s ‘Runaway’ pop epic and manage to come away unscathed with a very decent stand-alone track.

The 'Punk Goes...' series used to give insight into bands’ influences or soulful performances of stripped-down versions, even the original 'Punk Goes Pop' had enough of the tongue-in-cheek element to make it worth a few spins. In this case, while there are a few tracks to be picked-out, there is little more than financial drive behind the compiling of these particular tracks. Fearless need to rethink and try to grasp the original credibility that made these compilations so special.

2/5

'Punk Goes Pop 4' is out November 21st.

James Berclaz-Lewis