Mike Pays Heat – ‘Tape 1 Play’ Review

Posted: by Sean Gonzalez

Tape 1 Play has a more whimsical appeal than previous work by Mike Pays Heat. “Living Out” finds the band curiously questioning life with an atmospheric pulse of music slowly building up to a graceful release. It’s dynamic and a sound that Mike Pays Heat have slowly been striving for since their EP Headspace. The spoken word conclusion to the song is intelligent, showing a maturity to the music that is both aware and not afraid. It’s this confidence that opens the record and maintains itself throughout the next 40 minutes.

Sister tracks, “Steve &” and “Mirande” showcase a duality that one will hear during Tape 1 Play. The former has gleaming guitars and a reflective tone bleeding out of the song while the latter frantically crashes through distorted riffs and wiry vocals. At times I hear comparisons to DadsThe World Is…, and Runaway Brother seeping through the soundscape of three guys who are writing music for the fun of writing music. They deliver a perfect mesh of emo/indie bands on the cute anthem “Sleepover.” It is upbeat and encompassing other instruments to help drive the tune home being helped by quick flowing vocals running 100 miles per hour alongside the music. It’s a charming pace and one that has so many bright melodies it’s easy to get stuck in your head. The same goes for the blistering “NNFS” and the dance rock anthem “We Can’t Swim.” When Mike Pays Heat throws on the guitar overdrive, good things happen. 

 Through being prolific and releasing plenty of music the past two and a half years, it’s safe to say Mike Pays Heat has a particular style. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to experiment, such as the alt-folk tune of “Circuits.” It’s an admirable tune backed with a vocal delivery that weaves the sentimental track together. It was an unexpected song amidst an album that I thought was going to be more straight forward. Instead, Mike Pays Heat accept that their change is subtle and try not to shove it into your ears, “so i sink into verse chorus patterns again cause change is more suited to people with friends,” (“We Can’t Swim”). It’s this simple honesty that is embedded into every track that keeps me invested in listening to Tape 1 Play over and over. Whether it’s recognizing one’s self doubt on “Bloom” to battling depression and the struggle to rise out of bed in “Bedroom Life,” these three guys out of Philly know how to craft songs that are both bitter and sweet. Take “No Better” for example, the song plays out like a broken hearted lullaby and in reality it’s a twisted way of trying to love oneself in order to stop hating yourself. 

Tape 1 Play is an album that takes a few listens to really get. The dedication that Mike Pays Heat have allow for their songs to reach a deeper part of your psyche as soon as your guard is let down. Just like “NNFS” sings, “nobody exists inside these walls;” well nobody except Mike Pays Heat that is, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. For a young band, their debut showcases their strengths more than their weaknesses. They conquer different spectrums of the punk genre almost effortlessly, centering around the five minute epic “Breaking Pencils.” One listen through that track and one can hear the victory of Tape 1 Play.

The album is pay what you want over at bandcamp, and in all honesty this is a must hear album.

Score: 7.75/10