MOD SUN – Internet Killed the Rockstar (Album Review)
MOD SUN – Internet Killed the Rockstar
Released: February 12, 2021
US hybrid musician MOD SUN is the name on everyone’s lips right now, and if you haven’t yet heard what he’s made of, well now’s your chance. Born as Derek Smith (but now commonly known by the masses as MOD SUN), he began his musical career as a drummer for various post-hardcore bands such as Four Letter Lie and Scary Kids Scaring Kids. When SKSK disbanded in 2010, MOD SUN expanded his musical horizons and immersed himself in rap, hip hop and pop punk over the years, teaming up with the likes of Machine Gun Kelly, Blackbear and Travis Barker. The man recently made his directorial debut in Machine Gun Kelly’s Downfalls High just last month, but now it’s time for MOD SUN to outshine everyone in all his unfathomable, green-haired glory.
Internet Killed the Rockstar is MOD SUN at his rawest and most purest form. It’s a combination of the artist he started off as back in the 2000s with the alternative/punk element fused together with his hip hop influence from recent years. The album kicks off with ‘Karma’, an upbeat and infectious pop punk anthem that’s been making waves everywhere since its release towards the end of 2020. Lyrically, it’s so incredibly catchy and relatable — it’s kinda like saying fuck you, see you later to your ex-lover. I haven’t stopped smashing this song on repeat the last few months, and neither should you.
We’re off to a bangin’ start, and second track ‘Bones’ sees MOD SUN open up his emotions even more. His vocals and raw emotion soar over the electronic drumbeat driving the song, and while I didn’t initially catch on to this single as much as I did with ‘Karma’, it’s his incredible songwriting that reeled me in as I listened even closer.
Being the avid pop punk fan that I am, MOD SUN is bringing early 2000s alternative/pop and punk rock in 2021 back in all of its former glory, and I’m so here for it. It wouldn’t be a 2000s comeback without the OG pop punk princess in tow, Avril Lavigne. Beginning with Avril’s enchanting pop vocals, ‘Flames’ is the heartfelt, emotional pop ballad with a super catchy poppy hook (“I still burn for you…”). Avril and MOD SUN’s vocals tie together perfectly in a pretty little bow, and regardless of whether you love it or hate it, everyone’s favourite skater girl is back. Need I say more?
The 2000s punk rock is alive on ‘Betterman’, with the lead guitar riff and melody here reminding me of early Jimmy Eat World combined with something off of Blink-182’s California. With the full album being produced by well-renowned music producer John Feldmann, the latter is no surprise really. This song is probably the edgiest track on the album, and with the essence being about never giving up on love, it will hit close to your heart.
‘Prayer’ is a hard-hitting, emotional ballad that dives into MOD SUN’s past life experiences, which acts as a personal mantra not just for him, but for anyone that needs to hear. Led by a soothing electronic beat, the song is a silent prayer on our past destructive behaviours, acting as a waking up call for us all. However, as unhealthy as these behaviours may be, we can’t forget how good they were at the time, and that’s what ‘TwentyNUMB’ celebrates. The high energy that was captured on his first single, ‘Karma’, this track is an anthem for celebrating your carefree, youthful days as much as you can. While it definitely sits more with some of today’s biggest pop anthems, ‘TwentyNUMB’ is super exhilarating and catchy as hell, and captures MOD SUN’s musical persona perfectly.
While MOD SUN has allowed me to discover a newfound appreciation for alternative/pop music in 2021, I’ve also come to love his softer, emotional edge even more. ‘Smith’ is the song that showcases this like no other song on the album, and pays respects to MOD SUN’s late father, Dennis Smith. An empowering ballad driven by enchanting keys and a soulful pop melody, the song is a gentle reminder that the spirit of those close to us never quite leave us after they pass.
Internet Killed the Rockstar definitely feels somewhat like an autobiography, and yes, I know many musicians pour their heart and soul into their work, but with MOD SUN it kinda just hits differently. ‘Rollercoaster’ sees us dive into his mind as it spirals through his past and struggles to connect with his present self. The song touches more on soulful pop essences and melodies that’s quite soothing to hear, and quite the contrast to MOD SUN’s personality.
His loud persona and high energy returns on ‘Annoying’, an annoyingly lovesick anthem about being in love. Emanating huge pop punk energy, this one’s straight up one of my favourite songs from the record and I can’t help but notice a certain pop punk vocalist has sneakily appeared on this track in the backing vocals as well! The chorus is explosive, amidst that infectious rock melody and will be an instant favourite for any pop punk fan.
While ‘Pornstar’ carries MOD SUN’s hip hop influence with an infectious, electronic pop beat, the lyrical substance is minimal compared to the rest of the album. It does hold some early 2000s pop influence which makes the song hella fun, but overall it’s a little cheesy and just…cringey to listen to more than once. At least the record finishes on a high note with the title track, ‘Internet Killed the Rockstar’, which sees MOD SUN in a stripped back setting. While the track metaphorically acts as a sombre closing off of one chapter, it’s also a reminder to us about how mentally draining social media and the Internet can be for us all.
It’s pretty obvious that pop punk is well and truly alive in 2021, and MOD SUN’s Internet Killed the Rockstar has just taken the genre to new heights here. The album balances nostalgic pop punk energy with infectious poppier melodies perfectly and to be honest, you’ve gotta put this album on repeat and expect it to be in everyone’s album of the year lists in ten months time. Bangin’ record!
MOD SUN – Internet Killed the Rockstar tracklisting:
3. Flames (featuring Avril Lavigne)
11. Internet Killed the Rockstar
Internet Killed the Rockstar is out now through Big Noise. Purchase here
Review by Tamara May (@citylightstam)
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