In case becoming the internet’s number one hot new verified band wasn’t enough, putting out one of the year’s best records sounds just like what Michigan’s Hot Mulligan need on their quest for stardom. Arriving on March 6, the band’s sophomore album you’ll be fine is the group’s first output since their 2018 debut in Pilot, serving as a cathartic look at hardship that carries a resounding message of support and reassurance.
Opening with a twinkly guitar-driven piece, “OG Bule Sky” is an honest expression of what the album holds in store for listeners. Channelling the clear influence of Midwest emo, the album’s lead is excitable from the outset, while instrumentally it feels comforting and encouraging. Combining sparkling math rock with their own distinct take on pop-punk, “OG Bule Sky” paints a clear picture of the change that Hot Mulligan have undergone since their debut, while vocalists Tades Sanville and Chris Freeman combine better than they ever have. While vocally the song sounds familiar, instrumentally the song feels new from the band.
This is a common theme throughout you’ll be fine; with the band taking every opportunity to extend on the foundations they’ve built over the years to expand their sound and attempt things they haven’t before. Consequently, their new album is remarkably unsettled by a myriad of new influences but is held together incredibly by strings of consistency that come from their core sound being channelled throughout every song. It shouts that the band’s sense of identity is greater than ever before, and only after establishing themselves have they been able to develop into the band that we see before us now.
It allows them to transition between genre lines and stylistic choices freely, allowing their sophomore effort to be a diverse and three-dimensional record that isn’t diminished by any sense of repetitiveness or monotony. Whether it’s the booming rock-fuelled “*Equip Sunglasses*” or the synth disco beats of “SPS”, the band have proved themselves more confident and adventurous than ever before. As a body of work, you’ll be fine is entirely dynamic, and with every consecutive listen the album there continues to be new things to discover that only strengthen it. Hot Mulligan have created an album that grows alongside those who listen to it, and if given the opportunity will entirely envelop listeners.
Curiously while you’ll be fine flows meticulously, it seems clear that the album’s track listing could have been entirely different. The similarities between the album’s opener “OG Bule Sky” and “Analog Fade (New Blue Sky)” go well beyond their names, with both defined by the sounds of glistening Midwest emo, while the initial status of the album’s closing track “The Song Formerly Known as Intro” is obvious enough. With my curiosity in tow, I listened to the album with these three songs in different positions, but no matter the order it just never seemed to work as well. The album’s opening is a perfect introduction into what it represents, while the gut-punch to your feelings it ends on is the perfect final blow to be dished out.
Thematically, you’ll be fine is an overwhelmingly youthful response to adversity and vigorous expression of sentiment. Dealing with such a broad range of emotions, the lyrical concerns of the album are constantly interchangeable between internalised and frustrated monologue and the turmoil that preceded these feelings. At times, self-loathing takes precedence, with songs like “Dirty Office Bongos” seemingly defined by regret, while others like “Digging In” are fuelled by rage and apathy. Every emotion conveyed isn’t one that the band have shied away from in the past, but the extremes of their responses seem to have grown to greater heights. Every feeling seems driven by confusion and exasperation but the mentality that the album represents remains strong throughout.
Explained by the band on the album’s title, “We’re always told, ‘You’ll be fine,’ growing up – from scraped elbows and relationships. The title applies that same mentality to growing up, finding jobs, and being scared of the future.” It’s a reflective approach to growing up, and it’s something the band have communicated both lyrically in musically. Arguably the best example of this is the album’s second single “BCKYRD”, which channels nostalgia and conjures images of lying in the grass carefree with an expectation that everything in life would work out just fine. There’s an overarching point behind this album; growth only comes from hardship and despite pain, you will be okay.
you’ll be fine’s most solemn moments double up as the most haunting, and it’s in those moments of sombre self-reflection that the band truly make themselves their most vulnerable. Every screamed outburst feels like a reaction to stockpiled sadness, making every eruptive moment of emotion hit only harder. Whenever the album slows for a second, it tends to bounce back immediately into overpowering sentimentality, and this tumultuous nature of the subject matter only mirrors the rollercoaster spirit of the album. It’s this full-throttle approach to misfortune on you’ll be fine that remains true to childish recklessness in the face of adversity. While occasionally this lead-foot tactic was overpowering and distracting throughout the album, the lack of hesitation within does not hold the songs back whatsoever.
you’ll be fine is a fresh take on catastrophe, approaching adversity through the eyes of a child while reflecting on the lessons learned through turmoil. It pushes boundaries fearlessly, combining the glowing sheen of Midwest emo with the gritty pop-punk sensibilities that Hot Mulligan have become known for – resulting in a full-sounding and dynamic record. Though tumultuous both sonically and in subject matter, the album is held together by the confidence with which the Michigan five-piece have approached it and is defined by the band’s lack of hesitation to try new things.
The combination of Midwest emo and resolute pop-punk is done incredibly, expanding on Hot Mulligan’s pre-existing sound expertly. The approach to the lyrical content and themes feels new but hits the feelings just as hard. An overwhelmingly confident release from a band that seem to know exactly what they’re doing.
Vocal delivery on brief occasion was overpowering and distracting for me.