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Just When You Think You’ve Heard Everything, Pulses. Surprises You!: Album Review

I feel as though I am someone who diversifies in many styles of music at many points in time. Yet Pulses. have provided a record that surprised me at every turn and new song throughout.

Pulses. is a group from the D.C. area who has been around since 2016 with their release Function and has been releasing music regularly throughout. Their last release was Speak Less which was put out in February of 2021, receiving good reviews in the process.

Photo by Jane Sun

It Wasn’t Supposed To Be Like This was released on September 29 under Oh Word? Records. There were three singles that were released with this record, those singles being “Run the Ghouls,” “Different Strokes,” and “Loafers With the White Socks” that features nightlife, Belle, and Gavin Cole. This record is a twelve track album that from start to finish will have you hooked on the grooves and vibes that this record has to offer.

When starting up this record I was hoping for a sound that pulls the listener in almost immediately. The delivery of “Different Strokes” not only pulls you in, sits you down, but it starts feeding you great music from the get go. The intense opening strikes hard but surprises first time listeners when the song kicks into its funky grooves within each instrument being laid out by the band. Vocalist Matt Burridge ties the track together with great vocals in the first verse that lets you know what the band is all about. Another thing to note that is cool about not only this track but the rest of the record is that Burridge isn’t the only vocalist throughout this record. For example, guitarist/vocalist Caleb Taylor runs great vocal melodies on the chorus of “Different Strokes.” Change ups like this continue on the whole record with drummer Kevin Taylor doing vocals for the next track “Run the Ghouls” and bassist David Crane joining in on the chorus of “Heaven or Helvetica.”

Two of the best things about this record is that it feels like a fun melting pot of styles and genres. You can tell it was a group effort of friends having fun making music. The melting pot is heard through the whole record as each new song incorporates a new style or genre into the overarching post-hardcore style they are known for. Personal favorites include “Honesty, Honestly,” “Ask a Unc,” “Them Phones,” and “But It Is.”

“Honesty, Honestly” is a nice change of pace on the record slowing down with a building dynamic sound and instrumentation throughout. It’s a great tackling of anxiety with lines in the chorus “I wanna let go of everything I know; But in the end I just keep mocking me, haunting me.” They also recruited Sierra Binondo of With Sails Ahead to join Caleb Taylor on the track with the two blending extremely well together creating gorgeous harmonies. “Ask a Unc” comes after revitalizing the energy with a funky bass line from David Crane to open the track laying the groundwork with an infectious groove from drummer Kevin Taylor. The rest of the band jumps in keeping the groove going making this track an interesting blend of gospel and punk. The gospel aspect lends a hand to the songs overall message of disregarding self doubt and hatred and appreciating your worth which you can’t help but agree with in this track with how much fun it is.

Jumping to “Them Phones,” we get a fun uplifting ska tune which was the last thing that I expected when listening to this record. Tackling social media, influencers, and people telling you the right way to run things, this song is an uplifting song that is a big finger to the face of those who try to tell people they know the correct methods of getting coverage. Listening makes you just feel like you are the baddest person in the room and no one can touch you, which is something we all need sometimes. Recruiting JER for all the horns within the tune which add more power as they accompany the rest of the instruments getting their own time to shine towards the later half of the song.

Ending the album on a six minute track can be a little risky with attention spans varying on each listener, but “But It Is” is such an amazing ending to this twelve track record. It celebrates the band, the record, and the people who listen whether they be new or old. Musically it is a culmination of the different sounds on the record but mainly sticking to their roots musically with a post hardcore/emo sound. This track also features a guest appearance from Carson Pace of The Callous Daoboys during the intro and chorus of the song with Burridge and Taylor driving home the track with the outro verse being a huge highlight of not just the song but the entire record. It feels like a reward for listening to the entire record and it is a great gift indeed.

Overall, It Wasn’t Supposed To Be Like This is a contender for album of the year in many aspects. The melting pot of genres, collaborations, themes, and great musicianship creates a five course meal that will leave you satisfied wanting to come back for another serving. Every member and collaborator gets to shine throughout the record while not taking away from the song or other performances throughout. A record I couldn’t recommend enough no matter what kind of music you listen to, this is a must listen.

If you would like to learn more about the band you can check out their website here.

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