After releasing two EPs and making some west coast Emo Night appearances, indie rock band Sundressed is releasing their debut album A Little Less Put Together. Comprised of vocalist/songwriter Trevor Hedges, drummer Garrett Tretta, guitarists Forest Walldorf and Jordan Leal, and bassist Justin Portillo, Sundressed came together in order to help Hedges stay sober.
Now that things are a little more stable, Hedges channels his past experiences into his music, leading to an honest album featuring more than one self-deprecating reference. “A Little Less Put Together is the culmination of our experiences and struggles both inside and out of the band over the last few years. It’s about feeling like you don’t have it all together and realizing that no one really does and that’s okay,” Hedges explained to AltPress.com. In that, they succeed.
In a lot of ways, A Little Less Put Together sounds like many of the earnest pop punk songs of the early 2000s: they feature similar instrumentation and harmonies, as well as catchy hooks that you’ll find yourself singing after one listen. Songs like “A Frankfort Night” take on the happier end of a breakup with a rolling melody and playful Bowling for Soup feeling, while songs like “Limelight and “Feelings Mart” skate closer to the edge of emo pop, with a darker, tenser sound and lyrics like “Waiting for something to feel right/But it’s a waste of time.”
The best songs on the album are the ones that bring Hedge’s emotional turmoil front and center. Opening track “Of Course” has a little bit too much of a whine to it, but immediately dips into the subject matter behind the album. “We used to get high, but now we get low/I would have been there if I’d known,” Hedges sings, referencing past mistakes from the beginning. “Mill Ave and Broadway” has him further judging his own behavior, with lyrics like “No I’m not a monster/Unless I’ve got nothing to lose.” Even with these lyrics, the band maintains an upbeat tone, with nice harmonies and a trumpet feature that gives it a bit of a ska feel.
“A Little Less Put Together,” the album’s namesake, opens with, “I learned how to love from all the wrong songs/So hopeless, self deprecating monologues/And the times that I felt like nothing was wrong felt wrong.” The song explores how even better times may not always feel like everything is working the way you’d like it to. This theme carries on through the rest of the album to the closing track, “Something Good,” which explores how much life can end up feeling like you’re going through the motions.
As a pop punk album, A Little Less Put Together is successful. The songs are all fast-paced with catchy lyrics and emphasis on strong guitar riffs and well-placed keyboard work. Considering the band’s origin story, you might think the tone might dip here and there, but it stays consistently upbeat for the whole album. The only drawback I found is occasionally the vocals will edge too close to whining, which causes a disparity between the sound and lyrics. Thematically, this album could be the anthem of teens and twenty-somethings everywhere who are wondering why everyone has their life together more than they do. After all, who hasn’t had that thought before?
Sundressed’s debut album is made of pop punk as you maybe haven’t heard it before. While the band is certainly influenced by bands like The Starting Line and Reliant K, there’s an unexpected thread of maturity running through the tracks as the Sundressed explores life’s stresses, both during the good and bad. A Little Less Put Together is for pop punk fans who have found themselves aging out of defiant tracks about sticking it to parents or teachers, as well as fans wondering what to do now that Motion City Soundtrack has closed up shop. Truly, anyone listening to add some fresh tracks to a spring or summer playlist should give it a listen.