Vulnerable, blunt, energetic and dynamic with a hint of nostalgia, Mattstagraham’s new album, Prescribe Whatever is exactly what the pop-punk/emo scene needs right now. Complete with honest, tongue-in-cheek lyrics, sounds that’ll bring back memories of the early 2000’s Drive-Thru Records era of emo and iconic, melodic vocals, Prescribe Whatever finds the one man band exploring a wide array of emotions while touching on sensitive subjects like addiction and mental health in a way that’ll have you wondering how he managed to read your mind.
The delivery of Prescribe Whatever is what makes it such a powerful release. Catchy as hell guitar hooks and groovy bass serve as the backdrop to Mattstagraham’s blunt vocals in songs like the opener, “Gotta Be Productive,” which any young adult will easily be able to relate to. It’s clear within just a few songs that, despite some of the heavier lyrical content, he doesn’t take himself too seriously. That much can be heard on the chaotic “I’m So Dope,” and even the album’s title track, which finds Mattstagraham diving deep into the pit of desperation that one can find themselves in when chasing a high.
While lyrically on the darker side, “Prescribe Whatever” contrasts beautifully with the song that follows immediately after, “Not Everyone Is Gonna Love You”, which is an honest, hopeful track that proclaims, “Not everyone is gonna love you / So love yourself / It’s all you can do.” Then there’s the vulnerable “Bored With Myself,” which kicks off with the line, “Yesterday I woke up screaming through a panic attack,” and touches on the ups and downs of struggling with mental health.
On top of its powerful lyricism, the album also shines in its musical diversity. While clearly finding his roots in pop punk and emo (his sound is occasionally reminiscent of artists like Relient K and The Menzingers, while the vocals can lean a bit towards Midtown or Bowling For Soup), Mattstagraham quickly proves that he’s no one trick pony with this release. “When The Well Dries Up” takes on the chaotic energy of acts like NOFX or early Green Day with gang vocals and driving drums, while he dips his toes into hardcore with the short, aggressive track, “Buy!”.
Mattstagraham makes the most of all twelve songs on Prescribe Whatever. Despite the fact that he explores countless different sounds and touches on a wide variety of subjects on the album, it never once feels meandering or uncertain. Instead, Prescribe Whatever feels like a celebration of the genres and artists that influenced Mattstagraham with his own unique spin, all while telling stories that’ll cut you to the core.