What to do when you start a punk band that somehow morphs into so much more? Just run with it—or at least that’s what A Different Engine has done with a sound that has unexpectedly exploded to encompass the expansive new album, Radio On.
The band’s 2018 debut, Situation Normal, was straight-on power-pop fun (Vintage Guitar magazine called it “The Clash meets Johnny Cash”, while The Edge magazine named it one of the northeast’s Albums of the Year). But as the band got down to crafting the follow up, the sonic landscape expanded to fit a much broader palette. While the theoretical mixtape had previously included the Replacements, Hüsker Dü, Green Day and the Hold Steady, now the likes of Death Cab for Cutie, the Shins, Radiohead, Spoon, Wilco, Arcade Fire, The War On Drugs, and even hints of anthemic rock ‘n’ roll mainstays like Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Bruce Springsteen were all there right alongside them on the playlist.
Yet, while Radio On displays a more layered and atmospheric band at work, it’s still entirely grounded in pop sensibilities—fueled by jagged guitar riffs and burbling synths, and propelled by incessant rhythms, all brewed up into fun, infectious, entirely original music that is, ultimately, not afraid to simply be called what it is: pop-rock. Lay it down, a wall of sound.