Pop artist and rapper blackbear has dropped a new energetic record entitled ‘in loving memory’. It’s his first album since releasing ‘everything means nothing’ back in 2020. This marks a genre switch for him, going the route of a lot of rappers lately, as he takes a stab at his take at pop-punk with the help of none other than Travis Barker to help produce this record. This album is filled with a lot of classic sounds from early 2000’s pop-punk, vibes from more current pop-punk, and having his pop sensibility baked into all of these songs. But he makes sure to make his mark in the genre with exploding choruses, catchy riffs, and personable lyrics.
The record starts with a slow burn track titled “i don’t love me”, which basically sets the tone for the record. It feels as it’s a bit of a transition from pop, as it builds up to an energetic chorus at the end to kick off this album is a decent way. The next track “dead inside” is fueled by early to mid-2000’s pop-punk from the starting riff, having vibes for a band like Cartel and just shows how great his pop sensibility fits into the chorus in particular for this song. The third song and single from the album “toxic energy” is really where this record grabbed my attention. It’s a song that reminds me of just why I love this genre as much as I do, with a chorus that feels infectious and classic instrumentals for the genre. Bert McCracken from The Used‘s feature in this song really elevates it to a new level to match with blackbear‘s versatile vocals in the second verse onward to make this one of the best songs on the record. The trap beats in the background of the bridge feel a bit out of place, but still don’t bring the song down. This continues with “nothing matters” right after with the energy and the classic vibes of what pop-punk has been at it’s best. Jordan Pudnik from New Found Glory‘s feature really fits into the track, as his presence influences the main riff and feel of the song. Being a fan of NFG since I was young, I was bound to feel pulled toward this song as it’s my favorite track on this whole record.
If I had to point out any downside to the record, it would be in track 5 entitled “gfy” featuring Machine Gun Kelly. I feel like this song sticks out too much when it’s compared to the rest of the record, having flawed and even eye-roll worthy lyrics within the song. It’s catchy in the first half, but MGK‘s verse unfortunately brings the song down to make it my least favorite on this album. The record arrives at more of a rock ballad with “broken world”, as it feels more influenced by how bands in the genre write ballads like this as of recently. It’s a nice little track to chill with in the middle of this energy-driven record. The next two tracks “painkiller” and “fuilu” both do a great job at combining blackbear‘s classic pop-driven sound into the summer vibes of pop-punk and make these two highlights from this album as well. The main riff to “painkiller” really makes you feel like Warped Tour has come back from the dead just to have one last ride. They also show off just how great of a chorus he can write and make it the catchiest thing ever, with his vocals being in a higher register to give what these songs need melody wise.
In the last stretch of the record, we arrive at single “the idea” which gives off some of the better lyrics I’ve heard on this record. It didn’t strike a chord with me when I heard it as a single. But in context of the album, it feels like another highlight to go back to. It can be pretty relatable with someone being in love with the idea of you, instead of you so I can see the lyrics in this song striking a feel with a lot of listeners. Also having the acoustic guitar to start off the song and be in the background throughout is a nice touch. We get to an absolute banger of a track with “poltergeist”. Like I said about NFG‘s feature, Anthony Raneri of Bayside‘s feature and presence in this song is felt right from the opening riff to influence the feel of it all. The energy felt throughout, specifically within the verses feel so strong and really show Blackbear’s not here to fuck around in the genre one bit and he’s got great things to offer. Raneri still is able to match blackbear‘s strong melody at the end of this song and make it one to remember and take away from this record. The penultimate track “back in rehab” offer soft verses and a rock-worthy chorus. This song is an example of his lyrics being personable to just him. The lyrics on the record may not be all noteworthy or special, yet it’s made up with energetic instrumentals and wonderful melodies. As we get to the end of the song, where it turns into a circle pit kind of mood to end it. The acoustic final track “hazel inside” really shows off where his heart lies, as it’s written about his child. You can feel the honesty and genuine nature in this song within his tone and within the lyrics, as it’s the best on this entire record. The subtle clean guitar backing up the acoustic in the background really give this song what it needs to give off the right impression and feeling to end the album.
This record, while not perfect, gives off a really solid take on what pop-punk can be and what pop-punk has always been. I admire blackbear for giving us a mostly good collection of absolutely boppin’ tracks to end our summer with. blackbear will be going on tour this fall across the US with artists and bands such as State Champs, Mod Sun, Waterparks, and Heart Attack Man all on select dates. He’s also touring across the UK and Europe with Hot Milk so be sure to come out to a show to jam to these bangers.
Check out the video for “hazel inside” below.