Meet Me @ The Altar’s buzz has been building for so long that it’s hard to believe they’re only now releasing their debut full-length. They’ve been hailed by the press, fans and fellow bands as saviours of pop-punk since they broke out with the single ‘Garden’ in 2020. NME named them ones to watch in the NME 100 for 2021; that year, they signed with emo stalwarts Fueled By Ramen and released an EP, ‘Model Citizen’. Suffice it to say this album, ‘Past // Present // Future’, didn’t come without pressure.
And yet what the band delivers here is different from what you might be expecting based on their journey so far. This album is less about pop-punk, the genre tag with which they’ve become synonymous, and more about exploring the poppiest heights of pop-rock. It’s produced by John Fields, who worked with Disney-era Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato, and the band cites those artists as influences, alongside adjacent teen-pop of that era like Avril Lavigne and P!nk.
It’s a style of music often mocked and maligned, but Meet Me @ The Altar treat it with reverence and curiosity. They use its energy and bounce to lend the perfect backing to the hater-challenging ‘Say It (To My Face)’; its swagger and snot to fuel the breakup anthem ‘Same Language’, and its passion and emotion to paint the Taylor Swift-esque romantic ballad ‘A Few Tomorrows’. There’s an unselfconsciousness to that era of music which, when paired with the confidence and creative belief in it that MM@TA have, becomes unstoppable.
Guitarist Téa Campbell and drummer Ada Juarez are imaginative and cutting on their instruments — listen to how they build the first 30 seconds of ‘(Say It) To My Face’ — and vocalist Edith Victoria is an enormous, undeniable talent. Her power and chops are enough on their own (she originally auditioned for the band with a cover of Paramore’s ‘All I Wanted,’ a performance so notoriously difficult Hayley Williams herself took a decade to attempt it live), while her presence and attitude elevate her to rival some of the best in the genre. Album highlight ‘Kool’ shows her at her absolute best — delightfully cocky in the verses, then a breathtaking belt for the chorus.
Back when they announced this album back in January, the band shared an Instagram post explaining the thinking behind its title — paying tribute to the music that they love while staking their place in rock’s future. For a young band to think of their career in those terms takes a lot of confidence, but it pays off on this debut. It’s one to last.
- Label: Fueled By Ramen
- Release date: March 10, 2023