Halftime Leisure

Artist Spotlight: Marianas Trench

September 22, 2016

Vervegirl Canada

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit of an obsessive person. Especially when it comes to music. I tend to pick a band and then listen to nothing but that until some months later, when I suddenly fall into a musical rut. Then I find a new band to obsess over. The point of this is that I’m pretty much obsessed with Marianas Trench. I don’t blame you if you’ve never heard of them. I hadn’t either, until they popped up on my “Middle School Punk Rock Boner Jams” playlist (yes, that’s really what it’s called) on Spotify sometime at the beginning of this past summer. Even if you’ve never heard if their songs, I guarantee you’ve at least heard their work. Their lead singer, Josh Ramsay, wrote and produced this really catchy song back in 2012 called “Call Me Maybe” – maybe you’ve heard of it? He’s also written for both Nickelback and 5 Seconds of Summer.

In case you couldn’t tell from my taste in Spotify playlists, I do love me some good alternative rock/punk rock. However I would say that Marianas Trench falls on the more pop punk end of the spectrum, which I’m sure as heck not complaining about.

Their most recent album, Astoria was inspired by 80s adventure films, The Goonies in particular, and this theme is very apparent in songs like “Burning Up” and “Shut Up and Kiss Me.” Both make you want to jump up, dance, and shake your giant head of hair around. Overall, I would say Astoria is the most pop of all their albums, and while I do truly like Astoria, if anyone ever tries to tell you that it’s their best album (which, the likeliness of that happening is abysmally low because, honestly, I’ve never met another Marianas Trench fan, or really even anyone who’s heard of them for that matter), then let me tell you right now that they’re lying to you.

For Marianas Trench, their piece de resistance is their third studio album, Ever After.

I. Love. This. Album.

I could probably write a single-spaced eight-page paper to qualify my claims about it, but I’ll spare you and try to condense this as much as possible.

The title song of this album, “Ever After,” borrows elements from all the other songs within the album – a synth line here, some “oh oh oh”s there – and manages to merge them all together to form a single cohesive song. If you were to randomly sample the song, it might sound like three or four completely separate songs, but the transitions are flawlessly executed. Transitions are something that Marianas Trench has completely mastered the art of.

Ever After has zero dead air between the tracks. What you get is 52 minutes of continuous music, with each song transitioning seamlessly into the next. You’ve got songs like “Stutter” and “B Team” that demonstrate brain-infecting beats and catchy hooks similar to that of  “Call Me Maybe.” There’s “Porcelain,” the obligatory ballad that utilizes a minimalist approach to its backing instrumental, choosing instead to showcase Ramsay’s range. “Toy Soldiers” takes on a darker tone, touching on the topic of blind adoration (rumored to have been inspired by a crazy fan letter), and there’s “So Soon,” the heartfelt lament of an ex-lover still in love. The album caps off with “No Place Like Home,” which serves as the perfect bookend to “Ever After,” doing the same to blend fragments of previous songs into a summary of the entire album with a couple unexpected twists (never has a banjo in a pop punk song sounded so good). The album is a collection of very different songs that touch on different topics, but in the end, Marianas Trench managed to absolutely nail the transitions so that the album plays as if it were one hour-long song.

The takeaway from this is that you need Ever After in your life.

Aside from Ever After, their other albums have a slew of songs that touching on various topics. In Fix Me, their quintessentially angsty album (in case you couldn’t tell by the title), Ramsay sings about his struggles with bulimia in “Skin and Bones,” and in Masterpiece Theater, he revisits his past addiction to heroin in “Lover Dearest.” On the flip side, Marianas Trench also has much lighter hearted satirical songs like “Pop 101” and “Here’s to the Zeros” which comment on the formulas of creating a pop hit.

This past summer, I was lucky enough to be able to see them live at Baltimore Sound Stage while they were touring for Astoria, and holy crap was it an experience. Josh Ramsay strutted around the stage in fingerless gloves and smudged eyeliner with all the ease and charisma of flamboyant rock star front man, but he did more than just put on a show. He laughed and joked with the crowd, urged us to sing along with him, and at one point, hopped off of the stage to walk through the crowd as he sang. It was a rather intimate venue, and Marianas Trench was easily able to captivate the crowd.

All in all, Marianas Trench is a solid band that’s horribly underrated. They have a phenomenal front man backed by solid harmonies and snazzy beats. Their lyrics are loaded to tell powerful stories, but they also know how to have fun with their words and not take themselves or their industry seriously.

Maybe you look back on your middle school days with regret and massive amounts of cringe (I know I do), but Marianas Trench will make you want to throw on your studded belt, bring back the fringe, and hail to the days of Myspace, because pop punk’s not dead yet!


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