February 24, 2015 | by Bryne Yancey

It can be difficult to distinguish what we perceive as real and what we don’t not just in music, but in many aspects of art and life. 

Punks tend to largely crave reality, even harsh reality, using loud guitars and screamed lyrics to help them face their own problems head-on. On the other side of the coin, many different backgrounds or experiences are perceived as fake posturing meant to accomplish…well, I haven’t figured that part out yet. It’s not like there’s money in this. But whenever one seriously uses the phrase “not punk” in the general direction of someone or something (don’t do this, by the way), it’s usually a benign attack on the values and merit of that thing or person when stacked up against those of the attacker, often without taking into account that values and ideas can evolve and shift over time on both sides. It’s stupid and if you’re say, over 16, you shouldn’t do it.

Divers don’t have the traditional aesthetic of a punk band. Most of the songs on their excellent new album Hello Hello, out now via Rumbletowne/Party Damage, carry a classic rock swagger to them. Most of these songs are mid-tempo, with an emphasis on quiet verses and louder, anthemic choruses. The uniqueness of vocalist Harrison Rapp elevates these songs, though; Rapp’s approach, an amalgamation of Bruce Springsteen’s weathered, working-class vulnerability and Tom Petty’s desperation howl, is caked with panache and elasticity, making an album about a couple of bank robbers driving across the country sound vital and deadly important.

Make no mistake about it, though: Hello Hello is full of punk energy, even at its most theatrical. “Blood Song” sways and swells in the verses before breaking wide open in its choruses. “Tracks,” the album’s best song, is also its loudest, with an assured, Japandroids-like pomp coagulated with the guitar tones and urgency of The Gaslight Anthem’s best moments on Sink Or Swim. “Lacuna” and “Wild Calling” juxtapose jangly guitars with mostly thunderous percussion, which then break into soaring choruses that are oddly satisfying in their predictability. Moody ballads like “Great Escape” and “Last Dance” quantify Divers’ versatility and fearlessness—the latter especially in its impressively dynamic coda.

Hello Hello is accessible and familiar and ought to be a crowd-pleaser, and there’s no shame in creating widely appealing music like this if done so with sincerity. This type of music, time has shown, has an impressive shelf life because it feels stressed and sweated over. It feels real. Authenticity is all punks want anyway, right?