At the forefront of a pop-punk resurgence, Stand Atlantic show that there is still much to explore in their beloved genre. From rousing, piano-urged ballads to volatile, skate-park anthems, Louise Dugan gives her thoughts on the bands sparkling sophomore record.
The Aussie quartet first burst from the suburbs of Sydney into the spotlight with 2017’s EP ‘Sidewinder’. Although only spanning five tracks, it formed a victoriously authentic form of catharsis for front-woman Bonnie Fraser, in the wake of her painful breakup.
Whilst the pop punk scene is no longer the mammoth force it was in the early 2000s, the band’s pure unadulterated sound is a driving force in its tentative revival. If debut Skinny Dipping added fuel to the spark they had lit within the scene, ‘Pink Elephant’ stokes the flame to a blaze. It is difficult not to get excited about what this means for its future, especially with Fraser at the helm; a well-needed outspoken advocate for women’s and LGBT rights in a scene with a reputation for the contrary.
The album highlights a strong development of Stand Atlantic’s distinctive sound, the band exploring the nature of genre whilst still retaining their sparkling high-octane pop punk spirit. Although still early in their career, the tracks demonstrate a strong sense of the band’s confidence, clearly comfortable in perfecting their sound whilst not losing any of the fun in the process.
Lead single Jurassic Park encapsulates the tone of the album perfectly, a groovy bassline and bristling guitar riff underscoring playful lyrics - “Dancing with ghosts in your garden / Lost dinosaur.” Pink Elephant, the record's eccentric title track, offers a similar burst of revitalising feel good energy. From opener Like That, to closing track Hate Me (Sometimes), the listener is treated to a healthy dose of bouncy pop punk, accompanied by a splash of Riot Grrrl attitude and a festival-ready infectiousness. Shh and Eviligo are equally high adrenaline, laden with fizzy guitars, and topped off with a defiant chorus that wouldn’t seem out of place in an early 00's skatepark on a bright summer’s day.
‘From the defiance of Bullfrog, to the sombre reflections of Toothpick, the lyricism of ‘Pink Elephant’ seems to delve less deeply into emotional depths.’
Although mid-track Blurry slows the record’s pace, it does so without losing any sense of passion, exploring how easy it can be to come to rely on a toxic relationship when the person believes they are in love - “So you like to hurt me / Could you cut me dirty? / 'Cause I need surgery to keep me blurry.”
However, where previous album Skinny Dipping faithfully holds the listener’s hand through the harsh reality of breaking up and moving on, from the defiance of Bullfrog, to the sombre reflections of Toothpick, the lyricism of Pink Elephant seems to delve less deeply into such emotional depths. Whilst some thoughtful lyrics are peppered throughout, and Fraser explains the deeper meanings of these, the majority of tracks work from the core of a catchy hook, composed of only a few lines.
Shortly over halfway through, the energy shifts with Drink To Drown, which features a stripped-back piano backing that leaves room for Fraser’s vocals to shine. While, at moments, a heartfelt and ardent expression of how painful emotions over time give way to a sense of emptiness, the writing itself seems heavy-handed, and less poetic than some other pieces. Hot on its heels however, is sparky electro-metal DWYW; picking back up almost exactly where Wavelength left off, and giving the track a sense of faltering momentum, rather than dynamism and variety.
In contrast, the following track Silk and Satin, glitching with thudding bassline and a droplet-esque sound effect, although, sonically less traditionally emotive, feels rawer and more nuanced. “I used to be so sharp, and I used to be so callous,” Fraser laments, “but now I'm silk and satin’ / I'm running wrapped in band-aids / When nothing hurts at all.”
Ultimately, Pink Elephant is a barrelling wave of pop punk, and getting swept up in its excitement is an inevitability. It hopefully won’t be too long before Stand Atlantic are back on stage where they belong, whipping the crowd into a frenzy with the new anthems provided here.
Words by: Louise Dugan
Edited by: Dominic Allum