Compltr - You Won't Get A Gold Medal (EP Review)

Embracing who we are in a world that rewards cookie-cutter copies of the herd is one of the significant challenges of adulthood. However, accepting and coming to love our shortcomings is one of the greatest pleasures awaiting those brave enough to ignore the status quo. Someone aware of this fact is Jeff Wright, singer and songwriter for the Californian melodic punk group Compltr. Compltr has a discography that goes as far back as 2016's Purification Ritual. The new EP, You Won't Get A Gold Medal, is a tightly produced and performed collection of six relatable and emotive songs. Operating on the punkier side of indie, Compltr has an expansive, bright, and accessible sound, delivered with the poetically-candid maturity of The National but with a dynamic range that sees their adult expressions given bursts of fiery, youthful energy. As a result, You Won't Get A Gold Medal is often heartbreaking in its sensitivity yet simultaneously galvanising in its action.   

"There We'll Be" starts things off innocently enough. The track details the nuances that come about with self-examination ("All my friends play in stadiums now, I guess I never figured that out"). Guitars and vocal harmonies marry before pounding drums and overdrive lift everything up. It introduces the EP as unpretentious, like a friend who wants to tell you about their bad day instead of their latest gains. ("All that weakness never looked so good"). The snappier "Romantic Long Division" uses some production flourishes to help the fast pop-punk along. The loquacious lyrics about the importance of self-improvement awkwardly squeeze into their bars ("And I still lose myself sometimes, but I try to figure out all my demons"). And though the intensity of the music never quite matches its tempo, it comes off as feel-good all the same. 


A surprising turn to ambient/electronic/pop on "Can You Still See Me?" may slow things down, but when taken for the sum of its parts, it also helps to add layers of mood to the EP's often one-dimensional tracks. It's not the most exciting or memorable of songs, but its clickity percussion and eerie atmospherics help fill it out. "Just Desire" is a hard-hitting song that folds in observations of astrology, monogamy and drugs. Here, the group harness their ability to inject emotion into their sunny guitar music with an admirable, if not cliche, veneration of freedom. The highlight of the EP, "Flush", spins by in a kaleidoscope of Midwest emo sentiments, beguiling guitar riffs, and patiently persistent drums. For want of a better word, the chorus's melody is beautiful. More than anything, "Flush" feels fully realised, like the group knew exactly what they were trying to do and did it. The post-punk of "Everything You Wanted" is propelled by bass and has an abrasive chorus that "goes on and on" in a repetitive, absorbing, and meditative closing statement.

You Won't Get A Gold Medal by Compltr is direct music. Raw emotion is given studio flair, filling innocence with moving drums, painterly guitars, various keys, and subtle electronics. While the honest lyrics and their delivery can sometimes be too personal to be relatable, they often hit with inspiritingly melodic songs full of character.