Fear of Missing Out not only comes as pop punk band The Bombpops’ debut record following almost a decade of releasing EPs and making a name for themselves amongst the Californian punk scene, it also marks the band’s signature to Fat Wreck Chords. Such a label is a fitting home for the group, whose sound is influenced by many of the most prominent bands to work with the label during the 90s, such as NOFX, No Use for a Name and Strung Out, whilst also displaying an admiration for the biggest names in pop punk, like blink-182, Sum 41 and Green Day. Having even supported NOFX, Bad Religion and Descendents as a result of their success in their home area, it’s a wonder it took The Bombpops this long to be signed to Fat Wreck Chords and commence work on their first full-length release. Being unfamiliar with the band until the release of their debut, I went into Fear of Missing Out expecting to hear some largely formulaic pop punk that conforms to many of the pre-established tropes laid out by Fat Wreck Chords’ most prominent contributors in the past few decades. This is certainly true to some extent, but The Bombpops incorporate an array of different ideas from within the punk paradigm that lead to some pleasantly surprising moments. There is a satisfying amount of catchy melodies, great riffs and well-constructed songs, coming together to create an admirable debut from the band. Whilst by no means revolutionary, and with the odd dud in the tracklisting, Fear of Missing Out certainly explains why The Bombpops have seen such great success in the California punk scene.
The opening track, Capable of Lies, displays a tight performance from the band and establishes the clean production that is featured on much of this album. Whilst a true-blue pop punk track, the sugar-coated lyrics and vocal delivery bring an interesting and playful flavour to the song that isn’t a million miles away from J-pop. The vocal harmonies are particularly sweet and steal the show on this track, although the skate punk action going on in the instrumentation provides the perfect backdrop as to allow the vocals to shine as much as they do. The Bombpops have undergone numerous line-up changes, apparently working their way through three drummers and six bassists. However, the two founding co-frontwomen, Poli van Dam and Jen Razavi, have been the glue holding the band together since its inception. The years of experience these two women have singing with each other really shows, particularly on Capable of Lies, on which their harmonies are absolutely spotless. These lovely vocal parts carry over to Ca in July, another track to feature a straightforward, but nonetheless effective, skate punk groove that is good in its own right without overshadowing the vocal performances. In a similar vein to the previous song, the singing on Ca in July retains an almost bubblegum pop vibe, and the summery lyrics bring to mind many a prominent female pop singer’s work. The meeting of such clearly poppy female vocals with the speed and liveliness of a typical punk instrumental is nothing new, but in the case of The Bombpops, they maintain a certain individuality on many tracks from Fear of Missing Out thanks to the extent to which the two singers’ complement one another with a successful amount of balance.
For the most part, the songs on Fear of Missing Out share commonly recurring themes. Whilst this may make this record lack much replay value for some people, the fact that this album is a short 30-minutes spread across 12 tracks, with only three of said songs exceeding three minutes, means that it certainly doesn’t overstay its welcome or attempt any bold endeavours that fall flat. What’s more, even though every song on here features the standard pop punk instrumental paired with the well-worked vocal arrangements, leading to some tracks blending in with one another, a few cuts on here feature some small details that make them stand out. Be Sweet, for instance, features a main riff that has a slight emo edge to it, reminding me quite a lot of bands like Modern Baseball, and the band are sure to switch up the verse a bit in order to keep things sounding fresh. Sweet for Sorrow also stands out because of its main riff, but not necessarily for as good a reason as the preceding track. This lead lick is played rather sloppily and a bit out of a time, but to the extent where it sounds almost intentional, as if the band were trying to convey some of the untidiness that is often associated with punk. Whether or not it was intentional, I’m not sure, but it leads to a riff that just sounds really quite out of place, especially considering the rest of the song is very typical of the blueprint the band have laid out thus far on the record. This being said, there are a few moments on The Bombpops’ debut that work outside of this blueprint slightly, such as Jerk, which is notable for its muddy guitars and fuzzy bass, which are met with a slower-paced drumbeat that creates a sluggish vibe and breaks the album up to good effect. Of course, overall, I wouldn’t urge anyone to go into this album expecting anything ground-breaking, rather be prepared to hear some typical pop punk sensibilities worked into a pretty enjoyable format.
Fear of Missing Out is short, sweet and to the point. Whilst far from perfect and wearing its influences on its sleeve, The Bombpops convey an appealing charm on this record that I’m sure will see continued growth and success for the band. Moreover, across the short runtime of this record, the group cover a respectable amount of ground from within the American pop punk idiom, making for a handful of particularly vibrant songs that would sate the desires of most pop punk fans. With a slightly heightened willingness to explore and expand their sound further, The Bombpops could really make a name for themselves amongst the heated competition within the pop punk scene.
The Vinyl Verdict: 7/10