Review || Hot Water Music - "Light It Up"

When writing or reading a review of a record, it is important to remember that a large portion of the views expressed are utterly subjective for a number of reasons, different on each account. That being said, a writer, who is also a fan of the band he is reviewing, may offer specific knowledge and experience and address the work with higher expectations.
This is a review of Hot Water Music’s "Light It Up", their sophomore album on Rise Records, released on September 15th 2017.

Hot Water Music is a punk rock band from Gainesville, Florida, highly responsible for establishing the much later appreciated emo/punk - rough vocal blended American sound. To make things specific, I must mention that I am a fan of HWM onwards from "A Flight And A Crash" (and borderline "No Division") and that my favorite record of theirs was "Caution"; then "Exister" was released in 2012 and crushed everything. I consider that LP to be flawless in every possible aspect.
It took the band five years to follow up its last record, and "Light It Up" is approached differently on a few levels. Firstly, no producer worked on the record; the experienced bunch took the task upon themselves. When you don’t return to what is one of the better production teams in the world and refrain from working with any outsider altogether, good things can happen, but they’re probably not going to be perfect. I feel there is a slight lack of balance on the production side of "Light It Up".
Secondly, there is almost no experimentation present. Do not look for a "Drag My Body", "Alright for Now" and "No End Left In Sight"-like tunes. "Sympathizer", exactly half way through the album, is the only truly differentiating track musically; an incredible vocal effort by Chuck Ragan and by far my personal favorite. In general, this right here is a pure punk rock record, reminiscent of “old school” Hot Water Music. Notably "Show Your Face", "Never Going Back", "Bury Your Idols", "Overload" and "Hold Out" are the stand-out punk tunes on "Light It Up", but still a little less aggressive than what the band has shown in the past.
I can only assume that the probable duality in songwriting for Hot Water Music doesn’t have a certain agenda. Songs are possibly brought to the table by at least the two singers in the band and are worked on, until everyone is happy. I immediately felt that Chris Wollards’ contribution to the final product was somewhat forced, and this is my third and final objection in this piece. It takes some time to get the right feel for some of the tracks he sings on this record, but eventually they grew on me.

I’m left satisfied, but not feeling enthusiastic about "Light It Up"; the light (pun intended) feel to this record, along with the remarks stated above remove points from what I could then describe as a fantastic musical endeavor.    
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