It makes sense when a musician changes direction, even if their fans' feelings about that lane swerve are less enthusiastic. Someone who's been doing the same thing for a long time might want to tread new territory with their art—and when it comes to music in particular, people in their late 20s and early 30s are hardly going to be creating stuff inspired by what they listened to as teens forever and always.
All of which is to say: today we're streaming the debut EP from a band whose members have switched things up. By anyone's assessment, ONLY are an indie rock band whose songwriting sensibilities lean pleasingly towards pop-punk, though its members hail from the Boston hardcore scene, having played variously in Have Heart and Guns Up! in the past. Their EP Talk is only three tracks long, but its influences are many, from Tell All Your Friends-era Taking Back Sunday alongside more contemporary nods to the kinds of DIY punk, indie, and hardcore bands filling out the rosters of labels like Run For Cover Records and No Sleep Records. It's a great mix of throwback and refreshing—listening to it feels like slipping into a new jacket which is immediately comfortable.
Speaking about the EP over email, ONLY's frontman Steve Zuretti tells me, "After seeing bands like Turnover, Tigers Jaw, The War on Drugs and others releasing music that manages to balance a new and nostalgic feel, it inspired us to focus on releasing something of our own." Thank goodness they did—Talk is a series of extremely tight songs, all of which push choruses to the forefront for optimum resonance and catchiness (opener “I Don't Like Your Friends” is the kind of song that will stay lodged in your head from now until September.)
As Steve continues to explain: "I’ve always responded to songs that have a center—something the rest of the song is supporting and building toward. I won’t say we were deliberately writing 'pop songs' in any traditional sense but we didn’t want to avoid a hook. And at the same time we wanted to embrace aspects of the indie world or even shoegaze influence. I think if you listen to the EP you hear a combination of all of these."
Though hardcore and pop-punk go hand in hand culturally, they're sonically fairly different beasts. But bassist Kei Yasui told me that this recent leap wasn't a large or difficult one: "In Have Heart, I always tried to drive the music to be more melodic so this was an opportunity to really go deeper with those tendencies," he said. "And our drummer, Jerrod, has done a lot of writing and producing for pop-leaning arrangements, so his influence is definitely felt throughout."
There's a lot to love contained inside Talk's three tracks, whether you're a nostalgist or firmly looking forward. The EP's straight-up quality is testament to the power of great pop songs, and the members' hardcore history means that authentic emotion comes as second nature. As such, it's an accomplished and assertive but breezy piece of work—and it'll also probably have you singing along before you've ended the first listen.
Talk is out June 8—you can pre-save it on Spotify here.
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This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.