Wheelbite spearhead the pop-punk renaissance on debut EP ‘Down Bad’

Wheelbite have delivered the sonic equivalent of a middle-finger on their new debut EP Down Bad. 

The six-track collection opens with the title track, which cleverly introduces the project’s soundscape through a purely-instrumental offering of punchy guitar melodies. 

Drenched in reverb and adorned in fast punk riffs, the heavy strums that anchor the EP opener set the scene for listeners, immediately as though welcoming them in the band’s garage during a particularly rowdy session. 

Wheebite EP 'Down Bad'

Adding flair to their sound, second track Blinded includes dialogue samples from the 1955 romantic film Marty, whose ruminations on heartache colour the remainder of the song.

Gritty guitar and thunderous drum rolls give Blinded a distinct pop-punk sound, only amplified by the kind of yearning vocals you’d hear on the soundtrack of an aughties teen movie. 

Off-tempo percussion allows Blinded to forgo formulaic pop trappings, with the unusual rhythm later transforming into a soft-rock bridge and anthemic final chorus. Elsewhere, on Bad Energy, Wheelbite upend the connotations of the title by eliciting nothing but euphoric catharsis. 


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Carried by a defiant message of ridding oneself of toxic energies, the track begins as staple punk with riotous instrumentation and an infectious vocal timbre.

This later transcends into something more classic-sounding, as Wheelbite slow down the tempo for the groove-laden riffs of the 1980s. “I’ve heard it all before,” Wheelbite sing pointedly about a troublesome muse, “you’re rotten to the core.”

That ‘stick it to the man’ quality of the band’s sound continues on Indy, which extends upon the noisy energy with the addition of the most melodic performance yet. Climactic drum rolls ascend alongside poppy vocal rhythms, making way for the now all-to-rare fading outro.  


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Wheelbite nail their sonic lane on penultimate track and EP standout All Bark, No Bite, which serves as the EP’s purest rendering of pop-punk.

Buoyed by screechy guitar and the spirit of a Blink-182 cut, All Bark, No Bite laments the endless fights of a relationship, and sees the band sift through “all the lies” and “shit you said” to deliver a message of moving past negativity. 

The culmination of Wheelbite’s sound arrives on final track 495, which ruminates on inner-demons and the ramifications of one’s actions.

As usual, the band’s incisive lyricism is carried by unruly instrumentation and a late-stage heavy-rock section which might feel at home on an AC/DC record. 

This spirit of versatility sees the Hudson Valley five-piece flit between all corners of their sound with finesse, making Down Bad not only a masterclass in pop-punk, but in the myriad of adjacent rock textures and aesthetics that surround it. 


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It’s a testament to Wheelbite’s eclectic palette that fans of pop will also find much to love in Down Bad, with the band leaning into earworm vocal harmonies without sacrificing the EP’s grittier edges.

All of it works to make a case for the current resurgence of pop-punk, with Wheelbite leading the way. Listen to Wheelbite’s new debut EP Down Bad below.