With Defeated, the new 6-song EP from Man The Change, the Brooklyn-based five-piece is able to effectively display the group’s most powerful attribute: passion. The melodic punk rock selections are each catchier than the last, showing off an energy which both represents that passion and is the obvious product of a group having their share of fun. The up-tempo vibes begin almost immediately with the track, “Val Killed Her,” a selection anchored by its endearing guitar riffs and powered by a big hook. The song successfully peaks in a sing-along chorus, as frontman Mario Troiano sings, “I was hoping, you would remember my name.”
“Journeyman” follows, keeping up the pace, and all the while utilizing some backup screams in order to provide a bit more power to the track. The next few songs come in at around 2-minutes-long each. However, what these songs lack in length, they more than make up for in content. “Skeeter” finds the group finishing in a pace change, slowing it down for the last 30 or so seconds. The next track, titled “Keon’s Revival” leads off with a 45-second instumental lead-in, again, showing off a little variety from the group.
And finally, the EP concludes with perhaps its two most complete songs in “Under Water” and the title track. “Under Water,” one of the EP’s catchier songs, is highlighted by the profound, yet simple line of “A reminder that you have to breathe, to live.” The title track, on the other hand, proves to be the heaviest of the six, but varied enough to successfully employ an instrumental outro, taking us out of the EP. It truly is a powerful all-around experience, taking you from the track’s mid-section intensity, all the way through it’s dark, drifting conclusion.
Sound Quality: When considering this to be Hooked On Records’ first foray into a 12″ release, you can’t help but be impressed by the sound coming from the vinyl. With very little surface noise, the melodic punk sound comes out clear and loud through the speakers. It may not be an absolutely perfect pressing, but it’s damn close.
Packaging: Hooked On would also do a fantastic job with the packaging for this initial 12″. The record’s B-Side is screen-printed, depicting a cityscape, which looks quite striking on the robin egg blue vinyl color (limited to 500). A summary of the album is also located on this B-Side, adding a bit of personality to the actual product. A lyric booklet is included in the jacket, providing both those lyrics and a timetable of the release, depicting its delay. The booklet also features an interview and a required listening page from Jack and Alyssa, who created Hooked On. These personal elements are greatly appreciated and give the buyer a connection with the label which is usually non-existent.
Extras: The release also comes with a digital download of the album.
Summary: One of the main things to gather from the release of Defeater is that a bright future exists not only for the highlighted band, but for the attached label, as well. Together, they’ve crafted an excellent release, beginning with the passionate, melodic punk by Man The Change, and accented by great sound quality and impressive packaging from Hooked On Records.
Make Sure to Spin: “Keon’s Revival,” “Under Water” & “Defeated”
You can still pick up the record on robin egg blue at Hooked on Records.