Pop punk was one of the great fads of the late 1990s and early 2000s. With bands such as Good Charlotte, The Used, My Chemical Romance, Panic! At The Disco, etc. captivating the “mall core” middle school aged students all over the world, this period and genre of alt rock is filled with nostalgia for most millennials. Enter Andy Black of Black Veil Brides and his side project under his own moniker. Black’s debut album, The Shadow Side can best be described as a definite throwback for these years of yore. With hooks that stab like knives, this goth-punk-pop LP proves than Andy Black is not ready to give up on this genre. Unlike contemporaries such as Gerard Way, who abandoned My Chemical Romance to start a solo career that embraces Britpop over mainstream emo, Andy Black clearly enjoys embracing The Shadow Side, pun completely intended.
Many of the tracks on the album definitely feel like they were written during the golden age of pop-punk music. Yet there is also something innovative about these songs, particularly the opener “Homecoming King.” On this track, one can definitely hear a heavy synth pop influence, combining the sound of Neon Trees and Imagine Dragons with Good Charlotte and Sum 41. This combination transfuses throughout the album and takes Andy Black’s pop punk into the new decade. The grouping, when added with Black’s impassioned lyrics makes for an incredible recipe of alternative rock.
Yet, it’s not just Black who deserves to be commended on this album. Veteran pop punk producer John Feldmann expert editing and mixing skills are in full effect on The Shadow Side. Feldmann was also able to get many of the musicians he has worked with in the past to contribute to this album as well, including Ashton Irwin from 5 Seconds Of Summer, Joel Madden from Good Charlotte and Rian Dawson from All Time Low. All of these individuals really did great work, and their efforts truly have paid off.
The album ends with the energetic piano ballad “The Void,” which seems to be a perfect closing to a near perfect debut LP. Although the golden age of this kind of music may be long gone, the emotion and spirit that Andy Black and his compatriots have put into this album glimmers throughout the recording. For the first time in many years, it truly feels like it may be time to break out the guyliner and black hoodie again.