There’s something about the approach Flight Club has to pop punk that feels bigger than the genre itself. For longtime fans of that style, their new EP Kinda Funny will be instantly gratifying as it offers up five choice songs that are memorably great in any time or context. For fans who have a more cursory appreciation of the rambunctious sound, the EP offers up enough subtleties and divergent sections to show that this isn’t the same pop punk you’ve been hearing since 2000. And for those with just an aversion to the words “pop” and “punk” being so close together in a sentence… well, it’s hard to believe anything will change your mind, but give Kinda Funny a chance and you might be surprised at just how close you come.
Kinda Funny is the first EP for Flight Club since their 2015 self-release, and it’s a remarkable step forward for the band as they consolidate all of their influences into a cohesive sound – a sound with enough room still for musical exploration within each song.
There’s no doubt that this is a pop punk release by a pop punk band, but with blues and classic rock moments sprinkled throughout the seventeen minute run-time, as well as several other notable styles, they’ve transformed their sound into something far more sweeping and striking than most of their contemporaries and predecessors. It’d be easy for this approach to end up distracted and messy, but with robust songwriting and producer Alan Day of Four Year Strong behind the scenes, the EP effortlessly congeals into a solitary representation of who and what Flight Club exactly is: a skilled rock band endowed with the spirit of pop punk and the mind of every other great rock genre.
Once the nostalgia washes over you though, you start to pick up on little things here and there that lets you hear the song with modern clarity. The feverish hard rock outro, the amazingly restless drums, and even the decision to let the music and vocals sit on the same level within the mix. This is music from a band that is clearly well-aware of the past, while still keeping a clear eye forward.
Like “Fifty Shades Of Fine,” the rest of the record has its own tricks and techniques that help Kinda Funny stand-out. The abrasive opening that instantly modernizes their sound. Vocals that trade off back and forth in a mutated version of call and response, sometimes even followed by impressive melodic runs where guitar and vocals almost join together as a single instrument. The breakdowns and transitions are a remarkable step-up too, something that could have come from the Four Year Strong presence, but also has to be attributed to the blues influence which binds some of the songs together much more efficiently and advantageously than the typical style would.
As mentioned before though, it’s not just the blues influence that makes the record strong. “Wait Until I Get My Grade 10” weaves in the backing harmonies of doo-wop, bypassing the pop punk nostalgia and taking the sound all the way back to the American first wave origins where The Ramones were simply infusing ’50s bubblegum pop with distortion and swagger. Flight Club’s approach is not as heavy-handed as it was in the ’70s, but the approach is just as fresh and invigorating.
What’s best about “Wait Until I Get My Grade 10” though is how they don’t exploit those backing harmonies and classic style. This is a song that could work just as effectively in a barbershop quartet setting, but they contort the structure and spirit in such a way that it feels as right at home within a pop punk context.
Kinda Funny is out now on Bandcamp, and the album release show takes place tonight at The Canal Club where you can see Flight Club’s live energy in all of its glory, and also catch Last Night’s Ghost, Drop the Girl and Come Clean for a great night of music. Admission is $10 and the show starts at 6:00 PM.