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Baltimore-based trio Skyward Story have been building a solid fanbase for years now, honing their craft and working on writing catchy and memorable hooks. Well, the big payoff is here in the form of their debut record Reborn. Produced by Matt Squire (One Direction, Panic! At The Disco, Ariana Grande), the record is full of densely layered guitars, synths, and vocals, with plenty of nifty production tricks to make each song have its own musical character. While the sound of Reborn tends to dabble in classic punk-pop, the band is keen to dial back the speedy chords for plenty of catchy mid-tempo rockers. There are hints of electronic music as well, with a few cool flourishes of electronic drums and shifting effects.
The record begins with the infectious anthem “Hey!,” a bubbly slice of pop that injects plenty of smooth vocal lines from Aaron O’Connor to complement the sturdy guitar work of Scott Montgomery. A few songs in, the band slows it down for the first proper ballad, “Make This Last.” With plenty of interesting backing instrumentation, the song gives O’Connor the chance to show off his impressive vocal range, layering plenty of sweet vocal melodies together to craft a slick chorus that gets hooked into your head.
The following song, “Breakaway,” is one of the faster tracks on the record, showing the funky rhythm chops of Montgomery and the killer groove of Brandon Millman, whose drum work keeps the song on course. The inclusion of synths here makes the song even more memorable, as the simple yet evocative melodies work in harmony with the rest of the track.
One of the most musically interesting songs comes towards the end of the album in the form of the echo-drenched “Stellar Collision.” The track begins with a series of guitar lines played with heavy delay, combining raging power chords with some adventurous lead lines.
The standout of the whole record comes in the form of the penultimate track “Riptide,” which features a catchy sing-a-long chorus and some of Montgomery’s best guitar playing. The addition of a piano during the chorus enhances the song greatly, as the combination of the catchy melody line from O’Connor with the piano doubling it makes for a great listen.
Skyward Story have done an impressive job here on their first album, creating a dense and accessible sound that sounds fresh and modern while recalling the classic sounds of pop-punk from 20 years ago. Reborn is a great first step in what should be a promising career.