The highly anticipated debut LP, and subsequent tour, from Baltimore three piece Pinkshift serves as the perfect introduction for the latest pop-punk darlings. Love Me Forever captures the essence of what makes Pinkshift such an exciting act, and tells the story of a band born out of a pandemic. With heavy instrumentals, lyrics that perfectly toe the line between vulnerable and tongue and cheek, and a stage presence that will leave you sweaty and breathless in the pit, Pinkshift truly does feel like a band for the new generation.
Following their stints touring with powerhouses PUP, Mannequin Pussy, and Destroy Boys, Pinkshift has broken onto the scene like a racehorse. Composed of singer Ashrita Kumar, guitarist Paul Vallejo, and drummer Myron Houngbedji and formed while the trio was attending John Hopkins. The band rose to prominence during the height of the pandemic after the release of their EP Saccharine. Singer Kumar has also collaborated with Anti-Flag on their single “IMPERIALISM.” They went on to sign with Hopeless records, and now they’ve come together to work with acclaimed producer Will Yipp to create their first full length album, and it does not disappoint.
Love Me Forever manages to feel at once, completely nostalgic and completely contemporary. Pinkshift combines influences from 2000s pop-punk and emo such as My Chemical Romance and Paramore, alongside ‘90s grunge staples like Soundgarden and Hole, and a big dose of existential terror. All that makes for an album that will leave you unsure if you want to lay down and cry, or run outside and burn down every racist and sexist institution that got us into this mess.
The album opens with, “i’m not crying you’re crying”. Equal parts funny and deeply tragic, this track sets the tone for the rest of the album. You’re immediately met with singer Ashrita Kumar’s captivating vocals and lyricism. The heavy guitar riffs seem to stick in your head like bubblegum. The cynical lyrics feel perfectly attuned to all the anxieties and stressors that seem to linger in our minds all throughout the day.
“Or would you watch my words as they leave my lips
And tell me how you’re sorry for me?
As if you ever even cared
Do you want things to be like this forever?
You’re doing this to yourself
‘Cause I don’t think you’re trying hard enough
You’re not trying hard enough!” (“i’m not crying, you’re crying”)
By far the most dynamic track on this album is “the kids aren’t alright.” This feels like where you get to see each member of the band at their best. Kumar’s razor sharp vocals dance between face paced, witty lyrics, and strong melodies you want to scream along to. Vallejo’s heavy guitar feels like the perfect mix between grunge and punk with licks that you can feel in your gut. All of this is held together with Houngbedji’s rhythm that helps tie each section into one cohesive structure. This track highlights what I find so exciting about Pinkshift. The lyrics balance the line of being relevant without feeling like they will be dated several years in the future. There is a timeless sense of emotion that carries through even while referencing specific events and ideas. This feels like a song that will serve as a kind of time capsule for this era while feeling equally as relevant for future listeners.
“The world is always ending
For some reason we’re pretending that an epidemic
It isn’t real, isn’t present
The stupidity will getcha
Your anxiety will kill ya
And a whole new generation’s either numb or medicated” (“the kids aren’t alright”)
“in a breath” feels like a kind of intermission between the heavy rock tracks of the rest of the album. A smooth piano melody where we are able to see Kumar’s lyricism and vocals unobstructed. Deeply vulnerable, this captures a sense of feeling lost in your body and in your mind. A wonderful addition to give this album a moment where you as a listener get a chance to take a breath (no pun intended).
“Sometimes I dream a perfect dream
Where I return
Back to a place
Where I was born in the gardеn of a soul” (“in a breath”)
Watch the video directed by Hate5Six for “in a breath” below:
The title track “Love Me Forever” opens with one of my favorite guitar riffs in recent memory. You can really hear the 2000s emo influence on this track in the best way. Vallejo’s guitar really steals the show on this track. Between the riffs throughout, and the solo leading into the bridge we can clearly see not only the technical chops but also the creativity and style that has taken the band to the next level.
“Love me forever
Love me forever” (“Love Me Forever”)
This album allows each member to shine and highlights exactly why we should all have our eyes on Pinkshift to see what they do next. As their first headline tour comes to an end it is clear that this is not going to be the last we hear from these three.
After getting the opportunity to see this tour live, I feel confident in saying that their talent as musicians is equally matched by their talent as performers. With support from two NYC based acts, JHARIAH and Jigsaw Youth, they were able to put on one of the most exciting live shows I’ve seen in a long time. Ashrita Kumar as frontman carries the show. The energy on stage carries through the crowd and it feels impossible to ignore. I watched as the entire crowd suddenly surrendered to the experience and let themselves scream, and mosh, and dance with no inhibitions. For a band born out of a pandemic, getting the chance to bring people together like this feels like a truly special experience.
If you were lucky enough to see them on this tour I hope you felt the same. If you missed out on this tour, keep your eyes and ears open because Pinkshift is sure to stick around and I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do next.