Recommended tracks: “This Song Is Called It’s Called What It’s Called”, “Shhhh! Golf is on”, “Smahccked My Head Awf”
Artists you may like: The Wonder Years, Microwave, Heart Attack Man
Michigan-based pop punk band Hot Mulligan (Tades Sanville, Chris Freeman, Ryan Malicsi, and Brandon Blakely) released their third album, Why Would I Watch, through Wax Bodega on Friday, May 12, and we dare to say that it’s some of their best work yet.
The band has brought the honest songwriting techniques present in their previous work to this new album but turned it up about five notches. At the same time, they’ve become a bit softer around the edges and we hear more emotional performances than ever before on some of the tracks. The theme of wrestling with your own mental health is ever present throughout the album, and not only is this incredibly relatable to listeners, but it also shows us that the band truly treated this album like their personal diary. The dark humor that has become signature Hot Mulligan is also evident, with Sanville saying:
“No one who’s depressed is crying all the time. The media likes to portray deep depression as sadness, but most of the time it’s indifference. That works its way into alternative comedy and shitposting. The two cultures collide perfectly. The titles are the shitposts and the songs are what everyone in this position actually feels.”
The album opens with “Shouldn’t Have a Leg Hole but I Do”, a refreshingly honest song about lead singer Tades Sanville’s mental health. With a bit of a folky beginning that progresses into the kind of catchy guitar riff we’ve come to know and love from Hot Mulligan, we’re thrust into the theme of mental health right from the start. This track flows seamlessly into “It’s A Family Movie She Hates Her Dad”, so upbeat and energetic that you can almost miss the message in the lyrics as you’re too busy rocking out. As Sanville sings “and that’s how you pass it down”, he refers to guitarist and supporting vocalist Chris Freeman’s experience of being exposed to alcoholism and addiction as a child.
“And I Smoke” opens with Sanville’s one-of-a-kind vocals and a punchy guitar solo, grabbing the listener’s attention straight away. This track continues with a sort of bouncy and poppy energy as the lyrics describe Sanville’s experience with anxiety and paranoia.
Hot Mulligan slows things down with the first minute of “This Song is Called it’s Called What It’s Called” and the band’s nostalgia is palpable. It feels like we’re floating in a dream along with them in a scene where they’re standing still in front of the camera but the background is whizzing around behind them. After the first minute, they surprise us with a burst of energy. In this track, arguably one of the most beautiful on the album both lyrically and musically, the band effortlessly switches tempos multiple times to place emphasis on the messages they’re trying to convey. The harmony in the vocals along with the repetition in the lyrics gives it a dreamlike feel and drives home the feeling of wanting to go back and change things.
The next track, “No Shoes in the Coffee Shop (or Socks)”, where the album’s title came from, we can hear more clearly the flavor of Sanville’s nostalgia: he relives his memories and blames himself for things. This leads him to ask why he would watch his own memories if all they’re going to do is turn him against himself.
“Christ Alive Dammit My Toe Hurts” is a song full of contrasts. Starting with a mathy guitar solo and progressing into an upbeat and poppy track, the lyrics describe how it feels when Sanville wants to die. The dark irony of this track is a signature move for the band. Next up is a tearjerker: “Betty” is an ode to Sanville’s pet that passed away. Surely, this is the song that every person who’s ever had a pet die wishes they could’ve written in their pet’s honor. “Cock Party 2 (Better Than the First)” is a gradual entry back into some energy, addressing the feeling of wondering how you lost touch with your old friends. “Shhhh! Golf Is On”, the album’s lead single, is one of the poppiest tracks on the album. Stemming from Sanville’s strained relationship with his mother, this track is classic Hot Mulligan and fans both new and old will love it.
The following track, “Gans Media Retro Games”, is a catchy number that is different from what we typically hear from Hot Mulligan.
“Smahccked My Head Awf” is another delicate track. On the surface it’s very catchy, but the melancholy undertones in the instrumentals and the emotional lyrics paint a different picture. Throughout the song, we hear Sanville struggling to watch the progressing illness, likely dementia, of a close family member. Not only do we reminisce on past memories along with him, but we also get a window into the painful tone of their current interactions when he sings the repeated line “It’s okay / small mistakes”.
“John “The Rock” Cena, Can You Smell What the Undertaker” wraps it up by taking a swing at religion. Sanville confronts the impact his religious upbringing had on him and his relationship to his body even to this day, something a lot of listeners can relate to.
Hot Mulligan has delivered a raw, angsty, and emotional album hot off the press that was made with their own special recipe of Midwest emo, pop punk, and a healthy dose of Sanville’s distinctive vocals. Why Would I Watch will satisfy listeners both new and old and leave them wondering what Hot Mulligan will conquer next. Their straightforward and fearless dive into sometimes heavy and hard-to-talk-about topics will make fans feel heard while also giving them a reason to headbang along to the catchy songs that make up this album.
Listen to Why Would I Watch here.