It’s rare that a pop-punk band can have a “winning formula” in 2020, but this is surely it. Mid-Michigan pop-punks Hot Mulligan have one here with their sophomore LP, You’ll Be Fine — an explosive, eleven-track album that outdoes its predecessor by several waves.
The album’s artwork — composed by photographer Kaitlyn Dargen — was taken just before Fargo, Michigan froze over. Fargo is located in the far east side of the state, near the thumb, just northwest of Port Huron which sits on the US-Canada border, next to Sarnia, Ontario. The dog in the artwork is from the Fargo-based dog shelter, 4 Luv Of Dog Rescue.
The concept behind the album’s title resides in a saying children are told growing up: you’ll be fine. “The title applies that same mentality to growing up,” the band states in a press release. “…Finding jobs and being scared of the future.”
Hot Mulligan wrote around 75% of their debut LP, Pilot, in just two days. In the studio, they actually went in with ten songs and came out with “How Do You Know It’s Not Armadillo Shells?” — making the album a full eleven songs. On you’ll be fine, Hot Mulligan comes prepared.
Opening with “OG Blue Sky,” Hot Mulligan hits back to the days of their 2016 EP, Opportunities. The early impresser, however, is track №2, “Equip Sunglasses,” which formulates the best of Pilot — a massive hook in the chorus, booming guitar chords, and ending with frontman Tades Sanville exclaiming a huge sentiment. This time, it’s “find flaws in everything else/because you don’t like yourself/woes me.”
Midway through the release lands a track titled “Green Squirrel In Pretty Bad Shape.” It’s here where the band shows their true progression and maturity. Comparing to the likes of Pilot single, “Pluto Was Never Really a Planet..,” the ballad chimes in at track №4. Unlike “Pluto,” guitarist Chris Freeman fronts this one. And where aspects of “Pluto” felt unfinished, “Green Squirrel In Pretty Bad Shape” carries an emotional barricade through the entirety of the song.
The rest of the album formulates together in ways the band hasn’t prior. “Dirty Office Bongos” is an emotional front, capitalizing on Sanville’s impressive delivery. Even songs where the vocals aren’t the main course (“Digging In,” “Analog”), the guitar work is still remarkable.
“BCKYRD” and “The Song Formerly Known As Intro” serve as the final two tracks on you’ll be fine. But where Pilot really lacked was in the track order. Here, the biggest improvement happens to be ebb-and-flow of the record, which really works here. There’s not a single song on this record that you should skip through your first listen. And coercing within their “you’ll be fine” message, Hot Mulligan have something cathartic for you to rock out to in your room at 1am.