Hospital Bracelet, a three-person emo/pop-punk band from Chicago, released their debut LP on Jan. 12. This album, titled “South Loop Summer” has seven tracks total, two of which had been released last year as singles.
Hospital Bracelet was started by lead singer and guitarist Eric Christopher in 2019 when they released their first work: “Neutrality Acoustic.” This six-track self-produced EP was a hit among emo fans and Christopher got to work recruiting drummer Manae Hammond and bassist Arya Woody for their next album. With the addition of the new band members, Hospital Bracelet has been able to release rerecorded “Neutrality Acoustic” hits like “Sour OG RPG” with a newer more intense emo-punk sound.
Hospital Bracelet does not like to be limited by tying themselves to one genre, and the variation in “South Loop Summer” is indicative of that. Twinkle-y guitar riffs in songs like “Happy Birthday” are recognizable within the midwest emo genre, but the guitar backing in songs like “South Loop Summer” is unmistakably pop-punk. Before this album, I had never really considered myself to be a fan of songs typically categorized as emo. However, after hearing the album’s second song: “Sober Haha JK Unless,” I was sold on Hospital Bracelet’s talent and started to broaden my genre horizons.
“South Loop Summer” consists of seven really strong and unique songs. Christopher’s sometimes wavering but never weak voice really characterizes the music, and their viewpoint as a songwriter shines through in every lyric. Each song tells a story; the album is filled with stories of addiction, dropping out of school and escaping toxic relationships.
“Sheetz vs Wawa” is the slowest song on the album, and provides the listener a bit of space for reflection contrasting with the faster rock sound of the previous song “Feral Rat Anthem.” In “Sheetz vs Wawa” Christopher tackles the heavy topic of questioning whether their relationship has been toxic the entire time, asking “Have you been this person all along?” and stating that because of this relationship they “feel like nothing.” As soon as the listener has fully comprehended the meaning of the slow song, they are launched into the next loud and fast song: “Sour OG RPG.”
“Sour OG RPG,” which also happens to be my personal favorite song on the album, uses the metaphor of playing a Dungeons and Dragons game to describe the frustration of being dedicated to a toxic relationship with a person who does not share the same feelings for you. This fast and frustrating song is interjected with the yells of Christopher as they check themselves and recognize the true nature of their situation. This song is such a sweet blend of punk and emo, you can’t help but be sucked into the D&D game and relationship being described.
If you are a fan of emo or punk rock, I would strongly recommend checking out Hospital Bracelet. I think that with the proper momentum and support they could be as popular as the likes of American Football in the emo scene someday. The band tackles heavy subjects in a way that makes you want to sing right along with them. “South Loop Summer” is available on Bandcamp, Spotify and Apple Music.