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Real Sickies – Love Is For Lovers
Love Is For Lovers - Stomp Records
Last year, Edmonton, Alberta pop-punkers Real Sickies were one of the first bands to use songs to document the initial feelings of the Covid-19 pandemic. Their album, Quarantined, was released mere months into lockdown, capturing the true panic and confusion of what it meant to be thrust into isolation without knowing the road ahead. While Quarantined wasn’t without its flaws, it presented Real Sickies as a band willing to put themselves out there at a time when everyone else was closing up shop. All this activity presented the sextet as risk takers with something to offer even during the darkest of times.
A year later, with lockdowns lifting and mass vaccinations well under way, Real Sickies return with a more conventional follow-up, Love Is For Lovers, continuing the album-a-year release schedule they’ve maintained since 2018. Thematically, Love Is For Lovers is a natural and unrelated follow-up, reflecting society’s hopeful vibe of kickstarting social life and reconnecting with others. The album is chalk full of classic pop-punk relationship blunders and regrets, from “Communication Breakdown” to “I Think of Sunshine,” Real Sickies hone in on matters of the heart. And while the latter, with its poppy “ba-ba-da-da-da” chorus, feels buoyant and care-free, there’s a sense of lyrical maturity lurking beneath the surface. “If you can’t respect my time and visions of my life, When I don’t question yours, Don’t be confused when it’s met with strife,” asserts Ben Crossman, detailing a level of reciprocation key to successful relationships.
The bulk of the album feels true to the 00’s pop-punk vibe, with songs like “Give and Take,” “Sickies Don’t Talk” and “Going Through Changes” intuitively drawing likeness to peers like The Copyrights, The Isotopes, and The Riptides. Real Sickies stand stall with their peers all the while maintaining their own distinct style. Comparing their present output with past takes, the quartet has gained an undeniable confidence at their craft. For instance, “Hold On Baby,” infuses a little western twang and honky tonkin piano reflective of their Edmonton hometown while “Jeepster” gets down and dirty with a real boot-stompin’ roughneck rock n’ roll number. Real Sickies infuse each of these minor twists and turns with such adeptness that listeners may not take note the first time around if only because they fit so seamlessly within Love Is For Lovers’ undeniable flow.
I have to admit, a few years ago I wasn’t sold on Real Sickies. At the time they felt a little like copy-and-paste pop-punk – inspired by and emulating others without offering much in the way of their own spin. But in retrospect I can see that the band was simply finding their footing in a genre that doesn’t typically scream innovation. So the fact that the Love Is For Lovers makes such significant strides and takes so many chances is downright inspiring. With an emerging reputation for consistent quality on the back of a steady annual release schedule, Real Sickies are fast becoming the Teenage Bottlerocket of the Great White North. Love Is For Lovers gives pop-punk enthusiasts more of what they want while breathing new life into a tried and tested formula.