EP Review: “The Last Time You’ll Love Me” by Lighterburns takes back and rebrands heartbreak
“I’m never okay...”
Three words sung out of silence, leading into something more. Sadness, heartbreak, and desperation blend into guitars, drums, and something unmistakably pop punk.
This intro, belonging to a track titled “Henderson”, was the very first thing Us For Once ever heard from San Diego based rock band Lighterburns. This trio, made up of Alfonso Vargas (lead vocals and guitar), Kyle Hansen (bass), and Jeremy Hilliard (drums), may have their name tucked away under the Full Sail Stage heading in the official 2018 Warped Tour line up, but don’t let that deceive you. It’s not their first time around, and their energy and sound make them a must see at this year’s Warped. With just over a week until the final cross-country run of the rock show takes place, Lighterburns has released their newest EP ,“The Last Time You’ll Love Me”. A collection of songs that are passionate and real, “The Last Time You’ll Love Me” has lyrical content that, paired with quick tempo, beating drums, and power chord changes, reminds the listener what it feels like to be heartbroken, enraged, defeated, and yet still alive at the end of the day.
Pop punk reinvented, “The Last Time You’ll Love Me” strikes a nostalgic chord to the height of Warped Tour, and days when bands like All Time Low and pre-hiatus Fall Out Boy topped the charts. However, this band has tapped into something unique, since they don’t sound or feel like any type of imitation. Lighterburns is inspired- building and growing as artists and carrying on a new brand of the type of music you know and love.
Starting the EP with a fast paced drum intro leading into guitars, “Drive” is the bittersweet realization of not being able to hold on to a relationship any longer. The instruments and vocals work together, creating this track’s very solid transitions. “Drive” takes you on a ride of emotions: the upbeat first verse fades to despair in the second, desperation in the bridge, and defeated acceptance towards the end. Whatever the case, this is just the story’s beginning. First single “Henderson”, boasts it’s now-iconic intro alongside some sick guitar solos and resonating vocals. This original and emotional track feels right out of the early 2000’s, more than enough to establish that Lighterburns is perfect for Warped, and our personal favorite on the EP. A smooth lead in after “Henderson”, “McGuffin” masks it’s intense angst with an extremely catchy instrumental intro and slow build up. There’s a good mix of clear enunciation, high volume, and slight raspiness in the vocals, which are a highlight of this track as well as the drumming pattern. “McGuffin” is twisted and dazed, and three great minutes and fifty nine seconds absolutely full of fight. “The Last Time You’ll Love Me” EP is closed by the final track of the same name. Although guitars start it off, the drums call the shots in this song’s intro and outro, trailblazing space for this track’s “Take This To Your Grave”-esque lyrics like “Sometimes I sit in the old broken down truck just to remind myself of the last time you told me you loved me / But I know you’re never coming back- I should fix that truck and drive away”. Everything’s more intense in this track, heavier basslines and drumbeats and lyrics sung out in screams, but behind all that there’s the sense of unwavering hope that can be found throughout the EP.
A lyrical theme in all four tracks is the use of the phrase “I know”. “I know that when you’re in his arms”, “I know that there is no second chance”, “I know you don’t even like me/I know that I will always be the one to shatter all your dreams” “I KNOW, I KNOW, I KNOW”. Although they’re heartbreaking to hear, all these “I know”’s tie into something bigger, and create what gives “The Last Time You’ll Love Me” it’s heart. Hopelessly hopeful, this EP’s underlying message is that you can (and you will) get fucked up, and it’s alright to lose it. Scream, fight, admit that you’re not okay… but at the end of the day, know that beyond all this, you’ll live.
And that’s pop punk, reinvented.