Alright, you look at the cover art and I tell you that this is a solo guitar project and what are the things that pop into your mind? I bet it’s not “pop-punk meets nu-prog” is it? Well, this is exactly what Jon Poulin‘s With Vigor is. Apparently, Poulin is known in his own circles for his pop punk approach but also wanted to introduce more complexity and other facets into his music, resulting in this delightful little album. What can you expect on it? The album is neatly divided between two song types. The first, exhibited in the opening track, is an impossibly infectious, smile-inducing blend of music that can really only be described as “technical pop-punk”. Remove thy pitchforks and head on down below to listen.
Got a better description? Didn’t think so. The thing I like most about this track is how the two genres combined dispel the weaknesses they might have had separately. On one side, pop punk’s annoying simplicity is drowned with countless leads, interesting drums, good guitar composition and just overall an engaging structure. On the other, progressive metal’s dour and self-important facade is infused with a genuine verve, a spring in the step of the music that just reaches into your heart and sets it alight. I’ve been listening to this album for a few weeks now and I’ve already danced in the street/in my office chair several times to this track. If that’s not an “Eden Kupermintz Seal of Approval”, then I don’t know what is.
The other type of track on this album, existing more towards its end, is a somber, more deconstructed approach to the guitar. The pop-punk energy and dynamics are somewhat set aside but the tracks are still a bit more energetic then your dime-a-dozen, bedroom guitarist prog acoustic tracks. The post rock influences are also very much present, leading to a more expansive brush and canvas. Both parts of With Vigor though, whether these more thoughtful iterations or the earlier energy bombs, both come together to spell out one thing: Jon Poulin is a hell of a musician with a true touch at the guitar and one you’d do well to keep your eyes on. Get to dancing!