The Drop: Nothing to prove has some hits and misses

By By Trevor Hale and By Trevor Hale

By Trevor Hale

I remember the mid- to late-’90s when hardcore punk rock ruled the summer and Warped Tour was always worth going to. H2O was a staple of both, but after the disappointing 2001 release GO, the band kind of dropped off the radar for a while and left fans everywhere wondering what would come next.

Seven years later, times have changed and the New York legends are back. Contrary to the album’s title, the band has everything to prove and do a good job of turning even the most skeptical fans into believers again.

The album kicks off with the catchy-as-hell “1995” and it’s two and a half minutes that demand the repeat function on your iPod be put to good use. The rest of the album serves as a road map of sorts for H2O’s long career. The band puts its heart and soul to each and every song. The title track itself is another standout that’s short and to the point, just like good punk songs should be.

While Nothing to Prove is chock-full of fist pumping anthems that hit the mark perfectly, there are a few misses as well. Vocalist Toby Morse, who has always been one of the better lyricists in hardcore, seems to focus his attention more on the fashion trend that has plagued the scene in recent years than his trademark personal material. And while there certainly isn’t anything wrong with calling out the ridiculousness of trends, these songs feel three or four years late.

But-that content does lend itself to one of the best and catchiest tracks, the album closer “What Happened?” With a chorus backed by Lou Koller of Sick of it All and a song-stealing verse by Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba, it embodies everything H2O stands for-past or present.

With multiple guest appearances, Nothing to Prove feels more at times like a hip-hop record than a punk rock one, but the spots are well placed and evenly balanced so they never overshadow the core of the album. In addition to Koller and Skiba, Civ, Roger Miret and Freddy Cricien all show up to pitch in and remind everyone that H2O has always been about having fun and staying positive.

Although Nothing to Prove might not be H2O’s best work to date, it’s the best they’ve done in a long time and it’s a welcome return for the NYHC stalwarts. With H2O back in the spotlight, summertime has a soundtrack again.

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