Feeling Like A Kid Again
Somewhere in the depths of the COVID lockdowns I discovered a song that reignited a sensation I haven’t felt in close to a decade and a half. Off the record ‘You’ll Be Fine’—which, c’mon… you can’t get a much more emo title than that—there’s a song called ‘*Equip Sunglasses*’. I don’t know where or how I found it, but it was an instant classic for me. After immediately returning all the feelings of angst, anger and worthlessness I loved so much as a teen, I knew that I had to dig deeper. What I discovered has quickly become one of my new favorite bands, despite being much older and wiser now than I once was, Hot Mulligan.
Coming out of Lansing, MI, these new-school emo pop-punkers are like a time machine back to 2004—which I mean as the absolute highest praise I can offer. Perfectly mixing energetic music with thoughtful, insightful and sometimes damning lyrics, Hot Mulligan hits on all the major notes I looked for in my scenester days. Flash forward to today, few new acts can rekindle those feelings. Most aren’t even playing instruments anymore, let alone saying something new. In a world of electronic carbon copies, Hot Mulligan offers a fresh perspective on our shitty reality with hooks you’ll sing along to.
I Won’t Reach Out To You by Hot Mulligan
Following up the success of ‘You’ll Be Fine’, the boys are back with a new EP titled ‘I Won’t Reach Out To You’ and boy is it a heater. Releasing this week on Wax Bodega, the 5 track release is the true to form rollercoaster of emotions you’d expect from an emo band, but without dragging you down. Part of what I love about this genre is its ability to make the mundane beautiful, and H.M. has certainly nailed that aspect with their latest release, introducing themes of melancholy and loss all the way up to confidence and self-clarity in an engaging way that makes you want to relish the moment as opposed to run from it. It’s really quite magic.
Having clearly matured during the downtime we’ve all just experienced, Hot Mulligan’s new record harmoniously blends those sometimes jagged vocals with pop riffs and a bright aura that leaves you bouncing around your room, yearning for that upcoming fall tour, even for those of us listening on the wrong side of 30. There’s an awareness in these lyrics that make even us old heads tap in and reminisce, despite having aged out of most of these feelings long ago. That said, this project is clearly an evolutionary step for the group – playing with new and classic tropes that, while maybe a bit cleaner than some of their past work, definitely feels like the right next step in their growth.
Another big plus, at least for me considering we’re living in a time when there’s endless new content to consume, is the snackable nature of this record. While sure, it’s an EP, the runtime is just under 15 minutes allowing you to take in the full breadth of the work in a trip to the grocery store, or during your commute to work. While I’m certainly hungry for more, there’s a certain beauty in the simplicity and size of this.
According to vocalist Tades Sanville (vocals):
“The EP was an experiment to me, for sure. Playing with our sound and stretching out in different directions. People can work out the lyrics for themselves, but the point of the EP for me was to make some songs with no pressure or expectations.”
Not Featuring Mark Hoppus
Although they definitely say he is in the title of track 2, Mark Hoppus isn’t actually featured on the EP—though, unlike most of the rappers releasing records today, features aren’t necessary for these guys. (I say that with all due respect to the legend, while also knowing he will be featured on a future track as he requested during a radio interview with the band’s guitarist Chris Freeman).
The 5 track record is a journey through the spectrum of human emotion on it’s own, and a ride you’ll want to take again. I can’t speak to what most of the titles mean (I mean Hall of Meat? Please Don’t Cry, You Have Swag? Actually, this does feel like something that could’ve come from the early aughts.) but I can confidently say that for those of us who like to feel the content we’re consuming, there’s something extremely palatable about this type of journey.
While I’m not a traditional music critic, I did grow up during what many would consider the ‘heyday’ of this genre, and having passed “You’ll be Fine” around the peer group I came up with, I feel confident in saying that I’m not alone in feeling these guys are onto something special here.
While I haven’t been able to share “I Won’t Reach Out to You” yet, know that this is one I’m greatly looking forward to sharing with friends, and one I think you’ll dig too! I’m not going to pretend to give it some type of arbitrary rating, but I will put one in the air each time this comes on!