Who doesn’t like fast, super catchy punk rock? Rust Belt Lights has always been one of the best at keeping things fast and interesting. On top of those elements, you also get awesome harmonies and melodies and a vocalist that gives 110 per cent every time. There’s really nothing more you could ask for out of a punk rock band. Rust Belt Lights’ new release, Religion & My Ex, is the best representation of the band yet.
The record opens with an instant blast of energy in “Wasted Wishing.” The vocal melodies are super captivating and the song is full of sing-a-long moments. It’s a great start to the record. “Old Ghost,” in my opinion, is one of the best pop punk songs I’ve heard in quite some time. The songwriting behind this track is just absolutely brilliant and the vocal performance is incredible. It also shows off a softer side of the band, which is actually quite enjoyable. “Dead Letters” starts off a little slow, but you’re quickly thrown into a punk beat. The song has a bit of a darker feel than the first two tracks, but it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the record in any way whatsoever. Track four is “How to Live Without,” and it’s one of my personal favourites from this record and band. Everything about this song is unforgettable – especially the attention grabbing outro. It’s probably the fastest and most aggressive track on Religion & My Ex.
“Stolen Lines” showcases an experimental side of Rust Belt Lights and it’s almost reminiscent of something that could have appeared on Drive Thru Records back in the day; it’s a very nostalgic song. “Parkside” has one of my favourite choruses on the entire record. After a listen or two, it’s impossible not to sing along to this one. “If Nothing Ever Changes” is a very bouncy song and it will have you bobbing your head along with it upon first listen. It’s more of a straight-up rock song – which is new for Rust Belt Lights, but it’s very enjoyable. “Stay Young or Die Trying” throws you right back into that fast-paced punk rock that you’re used to hearing from Rust Belt Lights. The song features a pretty awesome guitar solo and it ends very strong.
The next track, “There Is an Ocean,” reminded me of one of my favourite bands, No Use for a Name. The song features one hell of a chorus that is sure to have people singing along at shows in the future. “Haunted Streets” really caught me by surprise. The song instantly made think of Page Avenue-era Story of the Year – which was a big record for me growing up. Because of that reminder, this song really brought the nostalgic vibe. “Pack Up and Let Go” is another dark feeling song that weaves in and out of punk beats and catchy melodies. It’s a very melodic punk rock song, with dark verses that hold your attention the entire way through. Religion & My Ex ends with “Just Words,” which tastefully feels like a classic Rust Belt Lights song. It builds up towards the end, making an awesome farewell from the record. Imagine it as the stadium rock version of punk rock song; it just sounds big and goes out big.
Overall, Religion & My Ex is where Rust Belt Lights needs to be at this point in its career; this record is fun and catchy, and it’s even experimental at times. It feels a lot more grown up than the band’s previous releases, but that’s expected since all bands mature at some point. I feel this is easily the band’s best and most impressive work and I definitely see this record holding down a spot in my top records of 2014 because I really can’t say I dislike any moment on this record. If you're a fan of anything along the lines of The Swellers, No Use for a Name or Pentimento, be sure to give this record a spin. I expect good things from Rust Belt Lights this year!