Secret City Souls explore emo sound in latest single Live, Laugh, McLovin’

Review by Lee Barber, The Underground Venue Manager, Co-Producer of The Honey Box and Honey Box Hive project lead

Secret City Souls enjoyed a fortuitous 2023, releasing debut single Safe and Sound in January, and following up with Love Blind, leaning into that classic pop-punk vibe with ease and developing a well-earned fan base in the local area. September single Another Life pushes those pop-punk vibes hard, but SCS look to take on 2024, they have embraced their slightly more emo side, with new single Live, Laugh, McLovin’.

There is an instant shift in maturity, Dawkins’ vocals are soft and warm and yet carry a huskiness, the melodies are well structured and catchy. There’s a tone of professionalism in the band’s new single, this isn’t just a group of mates having fun in a band, there is reason behind everything they’ve done on this track, which was recorded at Lower Lane Studios with Jonny Price, who has worked with the band since day one.

“We’ve stepped ever so slightly away from the pop-punk side and adapted a more “emo” sound with this one. You can hear this in the lead guitar melodies and the vocal style. We’ve experimented with open tunings whilst trying to keep our own signature sound. We have taken inspiration from bands like Hot Mulligan and Spanish love songs for this track as we felt it was more appropriate for what we wanted.”

Lead vocalist and bassist Ryan Dawkins speaks of the transition towards a more emo tone, and it certainly suits the band. The lyrics compliment the shift, also, as the band explain.

“Live, Laugh, McLovin’ is a song based around what people think about you, especially those close to you, and the kind of struggle you have hearing the bad things they have to say whether it be about your appearance, what you want to do/ achieve in life or the things you believe in.” 

Currently operating as a three piece consisting of Ryan Dawkins, Alex Willis taking guitar and backing vocals, and Kyle Jackson on drums, Secret City Souls have dropped a single that puts them firmly in place to take on 2024 as a strong contender to be an important piece of that puzzle that is Stoke’s music scene.

You can catch Secret City Souls live at Lymelight Festival on Saturday 25th May, a perfect sound for an outdoor stage in the sun. Listen to Live, Laugh, McLovin’ here:

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