I grew up in the mid-aughts and thrived on the blend of pop-punk and emo that was prevalent throughout the decade. At the time, both genres were starting to feel a little like a dirty word, but that didn’t stop bands like Armor For Sleep from releasing their magnum opus, the grand and cinematic What To Do When You’re Dead. It’s been a minute since a record of the caliber has made its way through my headphones, and while it may not be as cinematic as Armor For Sleep’s underappreciated classic, Head Spell‘s debut five-song EP, Take What You Can Get, matches the heart and prowess of it in spades.
“I’ve Been Better” is a rip-roaring album opener; starting out a bit of a slow-burner before collapsing to the weight of everything and turning into a crashing and cathartic moment of release for every single pent-up emotion and memory, and their knack for incredible expressive song-writing doesn’t stop there. Songs like the previously released “Shut In” are bouncy and reminiscent of the early days of fellow Pennsylvania natives, Title Fight.
The real cherry on top comes from the closer, “Playing Pretend.” The track is sprawling and the most experimental that Head Spell have gotten on this record. There’s an ambiance to the track that makes you feel at home in every note before collapsing into the wormhole of a chorus. It sucks you right in, leaving you both mesmerized and out of breath. It’s a stunning way to close out an already phenomenal record.
When asked about the record, vocalist Jon Arocho said: With “Take What You Can Get” I’ve attempted to get a little more personal when it comes to the lyrical aspect of the album. I️ dove into recent/past memories to create a more vivid and in-depth look at my life and the situations I’ve lived through. One of the main inspirations for this record was the birth of my first son. From the moment he was born my life took a complete 180 and changed the way I️ viewed the world. It allowed me to make major changes in the way I carried myself and therefore many songs on the album were derived from that.”
The continue that with “Every aspect of writing this record from the early days of writing to finalizing everything has been a terrific experience. We put so much effort into this record and it’s honestly my favorite project I’ve worked on so far when in comes to music.”
You can stream Take What You Can Get in full below.