This past Valentine’s Day, reggae punk rock band Ballyhoo! released their EP, Fighter. Since the band started in 1995, they have experimented across genres and with various sounds. Fighter leans mostly into punk rock with strong reggae influences.

Before diving into the tracks, the album cover deserves special recognition. The band’s name is stylized like Sega’s logo; the title and artwork are obvious nods to the Street Fighter franchise. It definitely differs from their previous beach-related album artwork, and I probably wouldn’t guess the genre correctly if I were presented with just the EP cover and no knowledge of the band. Still, I found myself intrigued by the stylistic change and am curious to see if this will be a trend as the band’s career continues.

  1. “Fighter” (7.5/10): The EP kicks off with the title track. This was the only song from the EP that had not been formerly released. It’s an encouraging feel-good anthem that sends the message that “you are a fighter” who can take control over your own life. Is it cheesy and cliche? Yes. Is it my favorite release from them? No. But is it a fun track that I’ll keep in mind when I need a pick-me-up? Definitely.

  2. "Dark Sunglasses” (8/10): This was one of two songs released in their single, Sounds of Summer ‘19, this past August. I actually first thought it was a catchy summer single that wasn’t anything too remarkable, but the track’s grown on me since then. Scratching below the peppy melody, I found it wasn’t quite the happy- go-lucky summer track I had originally written it off to be. Maybe we haven’t had to hide injuries from a drunken bar fight behind dark sunglasses, but surely, we can all relate to losing control over our lives, left to deal with the consequences.

  3. “California King” (8/10): This was the other song from Sounds of Summer ‘19. Compared to “Dark Sunglasses” and the rest of the EP, it leans more pop lyrically and melodically. It’s a nice contribution to the EP that contributes enough contrast.

  4. “Renegade” ft. Ted Bowne (9/10): This song closes off the EP. The lead of Passafire, Ted Bowne, features in the song’s bridge. Passafire also toys with various music genres, but its take on reggae-rock tends to lean more towards reggae than does Ballyhoo!’s. The two bands had collaborated with Bumpin Uglies in the track “Hard Liquor” in 2018, so I was immediately intrigued since the second Ballyhoo! dropped this song as a single last May. This is easily my favorite song from this EP and finishes it strong.

Overall, I’m content with the EP. Was it my favorite release? No. Then again, their last major album, Detonate, is going to be tough to beat. It’s been two years since then, and I’m excited to see what the band has next in store.