It’s been a year and a handful of months since the release of Handguns’ sophomore LP. Thankfully, they’re back at it again with Disenchanted. With this record, the difference a year’s time makes is monumental, as the guys have taken the Life Lessons (badum tsh!) they’ve learned and truly established a sound easily identifiable as their own.
A quote from Little Miss Sunshine’s Dwayne sets the tone for the album as he states, “You do what you love and fuck the rest.” In the film, Dwayne’s character serves as the sole reality check for his family. While they didn’t have bad intentions, his family members were, for a lack of a better word (or the excuse to use another pun), disenchanted as they ignored crucial issues—namely a break up, depression, and a suicide attempt. With this in mind, the heart of Handguns’ third full-length centers primarily around life’s various disenchantments and the cycles of self-doubt one goes through from time to time, as well as the anxiety and consequences that come with having a “tortured soul.”
Taylor Eby’s vocals and lyricism are definitely more developed this time around as he belts, “Day in and day out, captive to my doubts / Thoughts never match the words to my mouth / When I wake up tomorrow and feel the same / Not a thing I can do to numb the pain” during “The Worst In Me.” It is evident in this track how Handguns’ lyrical content has evolved, as the melodramatic lyrics have taken a back seat to raw storytelling. However, that exaggerated teen angst that many have become accustomed to can still be found in “Bury Me” a few songs later.
Throughout the record, guitarists Brandon Pagano and Kyle Vaught harmoniously enhance songs with fast and catchy riffs, which fans have grown to love from the band. The drums follow up with quick punches that drive the upbeat songs with fairly heavy lyrical content. Meanwhile, bassist CJ Wilson plucks along underneath it all as his bass guides the rhythm of each track, and he has his shining moment with the intro to “Low Spirits.”
Typical highlights of Handguns’ albums are the often witty, roughly one-minute-long interludes. Fittingly, “Carbon Copy Elitist” starts off with a hilarious skit about getting on guest lists. Serving as a comedic break, this song bridges the gap between the first half of the record and the second. On top of that, it’s arguably the most “punk” song on this release, with its fast punching tempo and in-your-face vocals.
Honing in on the fan-favorite quirks from their debut album, Angst, and the meaningful messages off of their previous release, Handguns successfully created a hybrid of the two, and fans won’t be able to get enough of it. Overall, this is the most cohesive album the band has ever released, with each song smoothly flowing into the next, and this makes listening to the album on repeat both easy and addictive. Disenchanted is a shining example of today’s pop-punk that provides listeners with a dose of relief when they realize that they aren’t the only ones disillusioned by their own negative thoughts and that they too can recover from them.
Review by Leah Dickerman