June 29, 2018
Charlotte indie rockers Late Bloomer are back with their third full-length album, Waiting, combining the sonic influences of all three members Neil Mauney, Josh Robbins, and Scott Wishart into a whirlwind of alt-rock, punk, and good, old-fashioned emo. After the highly acclaimed 2014 full-length Things Change, listeners may have expected the band to keep in pace with the successful, easily digestible sound discovered on songs like “Use Your Words” and “Backpatches.” However, Waiting seems to offer a new side of Late Bloomer– a more patient and mature side that we’ve only taken a quick glance at. Perhaps it took four years of growth, a relatively glowing Pitchfork review, and working with legendary producer Justin Pizzoferrato (Dinosaur Jr., Pixies, Parquet Courts, Speedy Ortiz) to change the group’s direction, if only ever so slightly.
One way or another, Late Bloomer is back with some of their best material yet, tirelessly outfitted with their personal brand of doom and gloom. Whether you’re in it for the blistering riffs, the nostalgic influences cut with a modern edge, or the lyrics that ring true to anybody navigating the triumphs and pitfalls of adulthood, Waiting is a record that embodies what it means constantly battle the mundanities of maturity and why it’s a fight worth sticking out.
The first track on this record is one of its most defining. Vocalist/lyricist Neil Mauney made sure to leave a mark early on, crooning slowly on the sleepy intro: “When does my reckoning come for all the hardest things I’ve done to survive the depths of man? Complacency, you beg for me, but you weren’t there when the shells fell around me.” Before you can even fully process the words, the song finds its punch, launching straight into the tenacity that listeners love about Late Bloomer and revealing instantly with a crash of cymbals and trudging guitar riff over Mauney’s burning question: “What makes me better than my friends?”
This lyric is only the beginning of the band’s introspection into adulthood. It’s followed by nine songs full to the brim with declarations of war against the sometimes insidious, sometimes comical disguise of a rock-n-roll persona and the sickening realities of a “boys club” society, all delivered with a pounding resonance by Mauney and fellow singer Josh Robbins, whose combined vocal power strikes a perfect balance between punk powerhouse and emo stylings. No matter the direction that Mauney stabs his ideological dagger, Waiting’s lyrics are constantly wrestling with the reconciliation of growing older and finding your way in a society that you don’t recognize, all while still retaining the youthful overtones of an artist just getting his start.
Musically, this record stands as a love letter to the monumental albums of budding emotion, confusion, and heartbreak that every college freshman listened to as they stayed awake at night staring at the ceiling wondering what the hell to do next. Listening through Waiting, records like Descendents’ Everything Sucks and Jawbreaker’s quintessential masterpiece, Dear You all come to mind. Nostalgia aside, Late Bloomer contributes their own arsenal of modern influence to the canon and, for all of the comparisons that can be made, it’s not a far reach to predict that the newest generation taking the stage will be wearing their speakers out with records like Waiting.
Orchestrated as a perfect note to self, the record’s ending track serves as the signature. “Life Is Weird” is a rock ballad that personifies the entire message of the record. Through all of the awkwardness and missteps that come with age, all of the understanding and wisdom gained can only lead to one conclusion: life is weird. It doesn’t always make sense, regardless of how many different ways you experience it and, at the end of the day, all you can do is try to enjoy the ride. And, at least from Late Bloomer’s perspective, maybe that’s all the answer you need.
Listen to Waiting by Late Bloomer due out on 6/29 via 6131 Records. Check out the Album Release Party Friday night with TKO Faithhealer and Faye at Snug Harbor.