Mace Ballard’s main objective is interlacing riffy guitars with catchy pop-punk vocals. Up to this point, the pop elements of its music have dominated the punk, but the band’s latest effort, Lanterns, trades the shine of 2012’s The Next Time You See the Sky for a showcase of grit and gloom.
The EP is quite a Pittsburgh affair. Lanterns, which the band will release later this month, was recorded and produced by Chris “No. 2” Barker of Anti-Flag and will be released via that band’s A-F Records. Barker’s production style on this release is reminiscent of the sound found on Anti-Flag’s own For Blood and Empire. Throughout Lanterns, Mace Ballard hints at the sound and attitude of that record as well as This Will Be the Death of Us, by San Francisco-based pop-punkers Set Your Goals.
The record’s angstier, darker sound reflects the political themes present in its lyrics. Mace Ballard uses its punky flair and gang-vocal-ready lyrics to comment on workers’ rights and gun control through bouncy tracks like “Aurora.”
Much of Lanterns aligns with the early-2000s pop-punk and easycore tradition. Although the sound has a time-capsule feel, Mace Ballard’s thoughtful riffage keeps it from feeling too stale. The sound of the record may not represent an evolution of the genre, but it showcases an evolution in Mace Ballard’s own personal sound. – Meg Fair