Boston’s Mint Green make music that hits the sweet spot between emo, pop and alternative, and they knock it out of the park on their debut record. All Girls Go To Heaven wraps the band’s strengths – among them, candy-sweet melodies led by the voice of lead singer Ronnica – into a package that ties in neatly with a recent resuscitation of pop-punk. It’s an easy listen from front to back, and its best songs beg for repeats.
Those songs show exactly what a full-length can do for a band by showcasing their capacity for range. “Body Language,” which hinges on a soft-loud dynamic, is immediately reminiscent of Bartees Strange; the band snaps like a rubber band, and when Ronnica shoots for another octave on the last chorus, it sends the track into the stratosphere. “What I’m Feeling” is a classic dose of mid-tempo pop-punk with a turnaround breakdown that highlights Daniel Huang’s stick work. Perhaps strongest among these might be “Trying,” an irresistible tune that organically switches from structured choruses to spacious, reverb-coated dream pop.
The band chose all these as lead singles for a reason, but there’s still plenty to love amongst the deeper cuts. Everything about “Ringtone,” from its summery atmosphere to its sweetly lovelorn pleas, makes it a fantastic closing number. The murky mood of “Ready” is cut by vocal harmonies and a guitar solo that recalls Pinkerton-era Weezer, while “Make Me Stay” bounces on the cadence of Ronnica’s vocal lines.
It’s Ronnica’s presence, in fact, that stands out most prominently amid Mint Green’s music, imbuing a proficient alternative act with a touch of uniqueness. On some songs, like “Whatever Happens” and “(We) Should Have Spoken,” her voice does the melodic heavy lifting in place of an extra guitar part; elsewhere, her ability to harmonize with herself adds a summery warmth to whatever the band is playing.
But Ronnica is just one part of an act with a clear history of practice – it’s easy, for example, to elide over the consistent tightness with which Tiffany Sammy’s bass locks into Huang’s drums, or the pitch-perfect lead lines from guitarist Brandon Shaw.
Debut records, while normally representative of a band’s best-prepared material, can also be opportunities to figure out in which contexts they sound best. Here, Mint Green work best when their songs are fleshed out with an additional element, like an extra rhythm guitar. Songs like “Body Language” and “Trying” form the strongest material here – not just because of their structures, but also because there’s nothing missing, or rather nothing that needs adding.
In those moments, the band show themselves as both keenly aware of what makes a good pop song and deft enough at their craft to execute it. All Girls Go To Heaven is a solid listen in its own right, but it’s also a harbinger: an exciting indication of even higher peaks Mint Green have yet to scale.