[REVIEW] Safety? Always Off! – Sometimes You Win, Sometime You Lose, Sometimes It Rains

It’s time for an easycore revival. I crave major key breakdowns and that sweet, sweet mix of screamed vocals and pop punk hooks. Thankfully, Illinois-based band Safety? Always Off! is here to bring the party back with their latest EP, Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Lose, Sometimes It Rains.

In fact, Blake Mickens and Dan Wachtel, the duo behind the band, actually came together via a tweet about reviving easycore. Listening to this latest batch of songs, you can really tell that they both have a love for the genre (and pop punk/metalcore/hardcore in general) – the passion is apparent in each crunchy riff and badass breakdown.

The percussion here is solid, with blast beats, cymbal crashes, and a ton of energy that drives the whole experience. It’s hard not to get hype when you have drums like these setting the pace. Sprinkled throughout the runtime are caveman riffs, catchy hooks, and plenty of solid breakdowns (like the one on “Sauget Falls Into the Atlantic” that you just know would kick ass to hear live).

Safety? Always Off! wears their influences on their sleeves, and that’s not a bad thing at all. The EP references a ton of genre-heavy-hitters like Senses Fail, The Story So Far, American Football, and Four Year Strong. These tracks remind me of sweaty Warped Tour summers and basement shows – Sometimes You Win really taps into a specific moment in time and will click with any pop-punk fan who still bumps Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! and A Day to Remember.

While the EP definitely follows the blueprints of those aforementioned bands, S?AO! still have their own unique sound. Take the track “I Tried To Stand Up And Fly Straight…,” for example, when the breakdown suddenly shifts into references to astrology (Gemini till I die / Toxic till the sundown / 666, evil tricks / Now I’m headed hellbound). Vocalist Daniel Wachtel notes that while the song is primarily about moving out and “worries about failure,” the breakdown is about how he “got into astrology to defend myself.” It’s not often you hear a hardcore breakdown reference astrology!

Another standout track is “Our Lawyers Told Us To Change Everything About This Song but We Ignored Them.” The song is captivating right from that stellar opening riff, and the song’s topic itself is a big “fuck you” to older artists who try to sue up-and-comers inspired by their work (think Yellowcard coming after Juice Wrld or Courtney Love claiming Olivia Rodrigo “stole” her cover art).

“Heroes & Legends” closes the EP out with an insane amount of energy, with snarling vocals and chaotic blast beats. When you first hear it, you’re immediately swept up in its energy, but once you give pause and really listen to the lyrics, you realize it’s a very somber track. The song is actually a tribute to Trevor Strnad, the frontman of The Black Dahlia Murder who sadly passed away just this past spring. “Heroes & Legends” reflects on how one person’s passion for music can have a ripple effect and inspire others to start performing themselves, while also reflecting on the unfairness of loss. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t heard his music,” Wachtel says.

All in all, this is a solid EP that fans of pop punk and easycore will be sure to love. There’s clearly a lot of love for the genre here, and the passion is apparent in both the songwriting and the performances.

Also, have I mentioned how much I love these long ass song titles? I miss the days where every pop punk band had mile-long names that barely fit on the back CD cover. Props to Safety? Always Off! for bringing that energy back.

You can follow Safety? Always Off! on Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok. Support the EP over on bandcamp, and click here for more info on where to find the band.

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