Breaklights’ Make Pop Punk That Gets You Moving on “Don’t Try So Hard”

by Brian J. Audette

Breaklights Don't Try So Hard

It would be easy to simply write off Breaklights as nothing more than a nostalgia act; “member berries” for late 90’s/early 00’s pop punk. The problem is that they’re so damn sincere. You can tell by the way they play that they aren’t doing this because it’s hip. From start to finish of a Breaklights album you can just feel the love.

On their latest EP Don’t Try So Hard, Breaklights gives us six more tracks of fast, tight, and sharply produced pop punk. If you’ve never heard Breaklights before, but you’re familiar with bands like Brand New, Fairweather, or Jimmy Eats World, then that should give you a pretty decent idea of the sound the band is going for: punk DNA, but filled with catchy hooks and pop polish. Don’t Try So Hard stays true to that model and while when played side by side with their previous EP Instructed to Fail there are few surprises, that doesn’t diminish my enjoyment in the slightest. I get what I came for.

Following up the rapid sting of album opener “Call it Off”, “Waterloo” is the kind of track that demonstrates what Breaklights do best. “Waterloo” is short with a fairly standard intro but halfway through switches over to a super hooky chorus and a bit of classic pop punk call and response. It’s a track that I’m already looking forward to blasting with the car windows down once spring arrives. From a critical standpoint it may not break any new ground and I doubt I’ll be analyzing it with other music snobs anytime soon, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t get me moving.

Perhaps Breaklights’ greatest achievement is in so deftly riding the line between saccharine pop and raucous punk. You’d think it would be easy for them to swerve in either direction, becoming either a boy band with guitars or a punk band with sappy lyrics, yet time and again they manage to stay the course. It’s not even that either of those directions are bad, but for some reason they just wouldn’t be right for Breaklights. The band manages to hold fast to their identity and it works for them.

As such, while there’s nothing on Don’t Try So Hard that surprises me, they execute it perfectly, and for a band that has so deeply entrenched themselves in a style that for many conjures a certain nostalgia, I think a lack of surprises and their insistence on polish actually works in their favor.

Brian Audette lives somewhere in Austin within a pillow fort made of broken dreams. He only comes out to see shows and buy beer. He has a surprisingly well maintained lawn and is using it to breed an army of attack mosquitoes with which to take over the world. Brian can be reached at or on Twitter at @bjaudette.