Just Say YesWhat does an indie pop-rock band do when they leave their record label? Some might choose to throw in the towel, but Pittsburgh-based Punchline did just the opposite, hitting the music world harder than ever and landing a $25,000 grand prize from www.heavy.com. And they didn’t rest on their laurels after winning the prize money, instead using their new wealth to found their own record label, Modern Short Stories, and recording their fourth studio album Just Say Yes. Regardless of what I have to say about the album, that story alone is the kind of rock tale of hard work and dedication that seems all too lacking in the general world of pop music today. Luckily, these guys are much more than a hyped-up prize-money story.

Just Say Yes is the kind of lighthearted pop-punk/pop-rock album that most similar bands have been trying to produce for years. With infectious energy and driving guitar riffs, the guys of Punchline manage to push the rhythms of every song on the album fast enough to require listeners to nod along to the beat but slow enough to ensure that every word of their emotionally open lyrics can be understood. It’s even more impressive to see that the credits for music and lyrics (aside from four tracks) are attributed to the entire band, rather than a single song writer. Lead singer Steve Soboslai has credits on the other four tracks, including the endearingly bouncy, piano-driven “Somewhere in the Dark”.

The mood in the majority of the songs is consistently upbeat and optimistic, even when they’re discussing break-ups and missed opportunities. The title track captures this mood perfectly, with a quick beat pounding behind Soboslai’s high vocals as he laments “How was I supposed to know? If the writing on the wall was so clear why couldn’t I read it?” There’s something of The Barenaked Ladies in this band’s eloquently upbeat depressives and deceptively complicated musical schemas. But just when you think you’ve got them figured out, they hit you with a track like “The Other Piano Man” that sounds like something out of an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical from the ’70s or the raw honesty of the stripped-down “Castaway” – “I never wanted you to leave. I only said those things because I knew they’d hurt you.” 

No matter what else can be said about Just Say Yes, I’d say this is one of the best $25,000 investments I’ve ever heard. 

Zach’s Rating: A-
Perfect For: Anyone looking to bounce around their room for a while
Stay Away if: You’re looking for more depressing music
If you buy just one track, make it this one: “How Did This Happen?” – It may be a bouncy pop anthem, but it’s the quiet moments in the middle of this song that make it a true standout

To purchase Just Say Yes, visit Amazon

Be Sociable, Share!