South-shore quartet Two Cents Short mix pop-punk and hardcore on their energetic sophomore EP, ‘Major Steps, Minor Setbacks’. It’s a strong take on the ‘easy-core’ genre that has even seen them team up with fellow Massachusetts native Alan Day (Four Year Strong) for the single ‘Beggars’.
The first track ‘Draw The Line’ is defiant, fast-paced and mocking: “Don’t try to draw a line between what’s insane and what’s inside your mind”. While the distorted, heavy guitar riffs nod to metal, it’s a polished production and clean vocals dominate.
Reflecting punk’s well-known contempt for authority, ‘Higher Powers’ debates giving up or fighting back against societal privilege. Beginning with a melodic, laid back vibe, it soon transitions into thrashing drums and metalcore-influenced guitar work, while yells of ‘How can I pretend?’ virtually beg to be screamed back.
Unsurprisingly, co-write ‘Beggars’ is the highlight of the EP. The triumphant “Woah-oh” gang vocal, backed by a bouncy guitar rhythm, ensures it rivals Four Year Strong’s catchiest choruses: “I’m not gonna take this anymore, if you’re out then there’s the door”. Lead vocalist and bassist Aaron Couto sounds his best here, injecting grit and energy into his vocal style.
Penultimate track ‘Setback’ pulls no punches with its hasty punk style, demanding an acrobatic performance from drummer Jonathan Costa. Rounding out the album is ‘Make It’, which reads like a warning to the band’s critics. The lyrics reveal ambitious goals, insisting “You don’t love me now, but you’ll love me when I’m famous”. Everything is pared back in the final minute as the track fades out, creating an unusual ending to such a riff-heavy EP.
Existing somewhere between melodic hardcore and pop-punk, Two Cents Short aren’t reinventing the genre, but they are excelling at it. An abundance of gang vocals, aggressive guitars and the layered, glossy production will delight fans of Four Year Strong, Set Your Goals or even A Day To Remember. No wonder fans have nicknamed it ‘happy hardcore’.
‘Major Steps, Minor Setbacks’ by Ten Cents Short is released on 26th May.
Words by Clare O’Shea (@Clare_OShea)