“I’m a bit too pop for the punk kids, but I’m too punk for the pop kids.”
Pop punk is alive and well, my friends.
When I first heard the sweet pop punk sound of The Summer Set, I was well into my emo phase in high school. Fast-forward nine years and these guys are still at it. You might be familiar with their hit single “Chelsea” or their cover of “Love In This Club”—if you’re not, then all you need to know is that The Summer Set is one of pop-punk-rock’s staple bands from the past decade. They know how to have fun and how to write catchy tunes with melodic energy and relatable lyrics.
It’s been three years since The Summer Set last released a new album, so to say Stories For Monday was a long time coming is an understatement—but it was well worth the wait. In the weeks leading up to its release, I suddenly realized how badly I needed a new batch of pop punk tunes to break up the influx of folk/alternative in my library.
Stories For Monday dropped this past Friday and after a few listens, my favorite thing (thus far) about it is how clearly the band has matured in the years they were off the radar. They still sound like The Summer Set I knew and loved in high school—just a little more grown up. Stories For Monday is an album made for the weekend warrior. It’s full of anthems about making memories, embracing youthfulness, and not outgrowing the ability to have fun.
The band has been swarming social media with promotion for this one, and if you ask me, it lives up to the hype. The Summer Set’s bassist Stephen Gomez describes the new release as “the soundtrack for all your weekends from here on out.” I can get down with that.
In the spirit of already looking forward to the weekend on a Monday, let’s break this down track by track.
Figure Me Out
The album opener is an anthem about owning who we are. Our problems don’t define us—and it’s entirely up to each of us to decide who we want to be. It’s never too late to figure you out (hell, I’m 26 and still working on that too).
Fave lyric: But I believe there’s more to life than all my problems/Maybe there’s still hope for me to start again/Get my feet back on the ground/Pull my head out of the clouds/I think it’s time for me to figure me out
The Night Is Young
It’s not unusual to look back on the past and immediately feel that overwhelming sensation of nostalgia. This is about looking back and realizing there’s still more to look forward to. The night is young, after all. We’ve got to live more in the moment.
Fave lyric: When you’re looking back at seventeen/Life is but a dream
Who doesn’t love an upbeat “I’m OVER you” song? That moment when you realize you’re finally over someone and you feel good about it is an uplifting one. This jamthem (that’s right, it’s both an anthem and a jam) is already landing itself on my summer playlists.
Fave lyric: You can keep the sweater/Don’t think I ever want it back/You let the stitches break/Now it don’t feel the same
“Jean Jacket” has a bit of a dark, sexy vibe to it—like it would be a song you’d play when you’re driving around at night. Brian Dales croons about the memory linked to this jean jacket and wonders where this mystery person has gone.
Fave lyric: Whenever I look back now/Forever nineteen somehow/Cause when I put on my jean jacket/I still think about you
All My Friends
Classic met-a-girl-at-a-bar song—the twist here is that despite this girl coming off as “crazy,” a scandalous adventure follows. It’s fun and it’s upbeat.
Fave lyric: We couldn’t make it to the bedroom/So you pushed me to the ground/Said, “I must confess this ain’t my house, but my ex is not around”
Change Your Mind
Let’s call this one an ode to the rock star’s too-cool dream girl.
Fave lyric: Hey you, rock and roll dress/Hard to impress, baby I’ll change your mind
All Downhill From Here
Everything being “downhill from here” has never sounded so happy and content. This sounds like one of those perfect party songs where every sings along to the chorus.
Fave lyric: My friends think that I’ve been living a lie/Truth is, if I didn’t laugh I’d cry
I feel like this one is a “last hurrah” song—being in that place you love with people you love. You don’t know when you’ll all be in that place together again, so you go all out to make it the most memorable night ever. No rules, no sleep, all in.
Fave lyric: Now it’s 4AM in the parking lot/We’ll be singing Blink songs til the sun comes up/Cause I don’t know if we’ll be here again/Singing, “oh, we’re going all in”
This song is a slow jam, embracing the art of being young, curious, and in awe of everything. We get older and we grow out of that—I love the idea of not losing the essence of who we were as kids.
Fave lyric: Promise you’ll remember, don’t you ever/Change your colors, dancing with the thunder/Forever, no surrender, yeah we’re only getting younger/Always in our wonder years
When The Party Ends (Can’t Hardly Wait)
This song is like an upbeat daydream about where we go once the “party ends” and we grow up—and how maybe we’ll find that person to leave the party with; the person who, in our eyes, will appear as youthful and alive at 65 as they were at 23.
Fave lyric: But I know if we both come down and we wake up 65/That I will still see your face like I did the first time
Shout out to The Summer Set for the sneaky use of “Wasted” as a song title on a record full of party anthems—you’ll need to listen to this one to figure out what I mean. This is a perfect song to end the album—the party’s over and we’ve got stories for Monday.
Fave lyric: Now there’s no one at the party/No one left in Neverland/But between empty parts and broken hearts/Is something worth believing in
If there’s one thing I know about The Summer Set, it’s that they aren’t afraid to be themselves or to grow beyond their roots. From here, I imagine they’ll keep growing and continue to keep the spirit of pop punk alive.