Summer is upon us, meaning sunshine, warm weather, and for some of us, listening to even more pop punk. Baltimore’s STMNTS (pronounced “Statements”) took this to heart, bursting onto the scene just in time with their debut single, ‘Handpainted.’ The quintet, formed in 2022, draws from punk, emo, and post-hardcore, melding their influences to create what is sure to be an anthem for the 2023 season.
‘Handpainted’ toes the line between guitar-driven grit and the catchiness of pop, a tried and true embodiment of the band’s primary genre of choice, which they pull off with major success. The track opens with buzzing guitars and drums veiled behind sharp feedback from the rhythm guitar, building anticipation for the intro. Drummer Shawn Smyth is first in, followed by rhythm guitarist Jamie Black and lead guitarist Drew Chiodo. Liam King delivers an infectious vocal performance, showcasing the clean and gruff sides of his range, with a chorus that’ll have listeners humming the melody indefinitely. He is joined by Patrick Williams of House & Home on backing vocals, adding some further depth to the sound, and call-and-response elements. The established brightness of the song dissipates somewhat by the pre-chorus, interluded by bass from Josh Pelc before the heavier guitars kick in—alongside the heavy subject matter.
The song deals with self-imposed isolation, and the slowing of progress towards getting “better.” The speaker’s mental health is declining, rather, showing signs of depression, in them being “scared of waking up” and experiencing less joy overall (“I can’t fake a smile / or laugh at things that I know I used to”). They’ve stagnated the effort put into improving their mental health due to a lack of results, leading them to settle for unhappiness and not reach out for help. The title ‘Handpainted’ refers to coming out of the self-improvement process battered and bruised, in a sense, comparing it to physical wear on the body (“So I clawed and I clawed / Until my fingers were raw”). King’s vocals match the tenseness of the writing, displaying some harshness.
For being a new band on the scene, STMNTS already have pop punk, and adjacent genres, wrapped around their fingers. Bright yet angsty, catchy and moshable, ‘Handpainted’ is a must-listen for fans of the genre, and a must-add to summer queues and beyond.