In 2013, it’s become disarmingly clear that “beard punk for the conveniently jaded” has become a punk subgenre. Do not make the mistake of lumping Rumspringer in with such hosers. Sophomore full-lengths are fraught with danger, especially after your first record was Empty Towers, a record that has been played at Razorcake HQ hundreds of times. Stay Afloat covers two main expectations. First, it sounds unmistakably Rumpsringer—bright music tones and heavy emotional shading in the lyrics. Shit, Stay Afloat’s a veritable barometer of music. The hydrostatic pressure caused by the weight of existential considerations palpably envelops the room when the record’s spinning and music fills the air. Invisible but omnipresent. The second challenge bested is that dreaded conversion from initial expectation and promise as a band to maturation (without being boring or pretentious). Stay Afloat is a brave record with exquisitely pretty parts. The music Wes, Mikey, and Matt crafted takes its time to inhale deep breaths and calm down. There’s more space on Stay Afloat than in Empty Towers. It’s also an explicitly anti-slacker, anti-insta-jaded record. (Three quick lyrical examples: “I don’t want to be bored forever.” “You can stay afloat or stay in bed.” “…somewhere between acknowledgement and giving a damn.”) As a result, it’s a profoundly questioning record, one that I’ll be spinning for years to come. Here’s to the curse of the quiet beauty of Arizona sunsets setting the tone of a record... and DIY punks making some of the best music on the planet.
–todd (Dirt Cult, dirtcult.com)