Home Read Albums Of The Week: Death Party Playground | The Good Years

Albums Of The Week: Death Party Playground | The Good Years

The talented Waterloo trio’s power-pop comes packed with punch & panache.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The title of Death Party Playground’s latest EP The Good Years could be interpreted any number of ways given the current state of the world. But for singer-songwriter, guitarist and bandleader Kyle Taylor, it’s actually a fair reflection of recent creativity.

The Waterloo, Ont., power-pop trio released their previous album Little Joy at the start of 2020, and despite earning comparison to The Replacements and Hüsker Dü, the ensuing lockdown prevented Death Party Playground from getting out on the road to back up those words. Instead, Taylor took advantage of his isolation time to focus on finishing a new batch of tunes he’d started in 2019. By summer 2020, he’d recruited a new rhythm section — bassist/vocalist Jesse Alarcon and drummer Matty Sawyer — and by winter the band were ready to record safely in their practice space with regular producer Joe Shugan. The end product shows Death Party Playground evolving as a band, with greater emphasis on guitars, melody, and Taylor’s vocals, which he feels may have got stronger as a result of singing through a mask during rehearsals.

“Just having a new lineup has changed the approach to my songwriting completely,” Taylor says. “This new EP definitely has a heavier groove, and the songs sound more efficient than on the last record. Considering the circumstances we were working under, I think the entire record was made pretty efficiently overall.”

The opening blast of The Good Years’ title track easily sets a new standard, with Taylor’s crunching guitar work building to a harmonized climax while Alarcon and Sawyer push the envelope behind him. The pace doesn’t let up with Make It Home, a clear choice for a first single due to its pop savviness. In fact, power-pop aficionados will likely hear in it the approach Matthew Sweet perfected on his timeless albums Girlfriend and 100% Fun. The majestic, mid-tempo Upside Down follows and confirms that Taylor can go toe-to-toe with the best alt-rock songwriters. Combined with his unmistakable vocal delivery, The Good Years makes a strong case that few other bands in their league are creating rock ’n’ roll with such power, confidence, and style.

It says a lot that Taylor’s primary influences are, in fact, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and John Prine, artists to whom the craft is paramount. “Each of these songs was written at a different time and place, but together I feel they capture a sense of hope that went missing when everything shut down. My partner and I really only had each other, and so much of my life was uncertain at the time, but we learned more than ever before how much we get along. I think Upside Down came out of an appreciation for that.”

Indeed, The Good Years has the capacity to rekindle an appreciation of rock’s ability to unite us during the darkest of times, while reinforcing the fact that DPP are one of the more exciting Canadian bands on the scene today.”