Anyone who knows me knows how much I love pop-punk. From my early experiences with Blink-182, Relient K and the like to more modern acts like The Wonder Years (whose most recent release The Greatest Generation was unequivocally in my top three albums of last year) I’ve always felt a connection to deceptively simple songs full of emotion and super catchy hooks. There’s something about pop-punk that always feels more authentic, like the artists are getting to say exactly what they feel without any posturing or images to maintain. I know that there’s no shade to be thrown at other genres, but my experience with pop-punk always straps in knowing that whatever I’m listening to is going to demand my full attention, that even at its catchiest hook, an artist is going to be bearing their soul unto me.
All that said, it should be no surprise that I immediately fell in love with Sinai Vessel’s Profanity EP. Self-described as “punk for sissies,” the album actually feels like a more aggressive version of Dashboard Confessional, with all the raw vulnerability of those lyrics without the air of pretension that comes with it. The whole project is marked with powerfully written lyrics that lead singer Caleb Cordes howls into being. On album opener “Cats,” an exploration of small-town Christianity, the closing line sets up the type of experience that the band designed Profanity to be. “You’re a five word liar’s chorus “You mean everything to me.” That kind of fearless poetry mixed with the subtle aggression of the instrumental line create a perfect storm that very much keeps the punk-rock aesthetic alive.
The album is expertly designed as well. A swirling acoustic interlude “Greatham” builds until it explodes into album standout “Cuckhold” on which Cordes unleashes his desire to be loved, or even liked, giving a voice to an all too familiar feeling. When the lyric “I don’t need your love, I just need them to love me,” appears, you feel the tension in his voice as priorities are set up. The whole album feels like three people desperately trying to seek for meaning in the universe and realizing that it will only come if they keep searching.
While Cordes’s vocals and lyrics take center stage on Profanity it would be awfully reductive to reduce the album to those with some light accompaniment. Daniel Hernandez and Joshua Herron are masters of the “deceptively simple” art of pop-punk, creating an effortless sounding sonic canvas for Cordes to paint on top of while maintaining a high level of play. “Index on the Oval” in particular is helped along by Herron’s easy shuffle and the walk that Hernandez takes his bass on. Every song on this EP felt like easy waves washing over me which made those sections of pure punk aggression feel like a wake up call that let me know that each song needed my full attention. Sinai Vessel grabs you by the collar and demands to be heard, and “for sissies” or not, that’s what it means to be punk rock.
You can check out a live version of “Cuckold” below and you can pick up Profanity on Sinai Vessel’s Bandcamp page. I can’t recommend highly enough that you do that.