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The War Toys have us feeling angsty with their single, "Holy Smokes"

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

Genre: Pop Punk

“Don’t you know we’re psychos?”

After their year-long vow of creative silence, The War Toys mark their territory in the Los Angeles music scene yet again with their newest song, “Holy Smokes”. The band succeeds at writing another head-banger that transcends you to pop-punk heaven with its gritty guitar riffs, punchy vocals, and upbeat energy bleeding from the production. The chord progression strays away from the typical tonality that’s used in the pop-punk genre but it adds a nice flavor to the composition. The overall vibe reminds me of something I would hear from a Tony Hawk skateboarding game back in the day or even Guitar Hero. There’s a great sense of nostalgia for the late 90s/early 2000s, but this song is easily a modern take on older grooves.

As the crunchy electric guitar notes drag along the fretboard, a really nice rhythm is established by the drumbeat and percussive strokes that guide us to the first verse with a hypnotizing chord progression. It sounds like it’s moving in a circular motion with the way the melody smoothly scales up and down the measures. Right when you think this would become repetitive, the band switches things up with a dynamic pre-chorus that transitions to an instrumental part with whurring background vocals. While I enjoy the pre-chorus with the way the band cuts in and out to offer some sort of rhythmic variation, I feel like there’s a build-up that has a weak payoff, especially after the second verse. However, what they added to the song at the end is really good and makes up for this slight critique. I absolutely love how the song just goes into this upbeat, wall of sound with the instruments filling up any space for silence. It’s super fun listening to the passionate vocals soar over the strong volume coming from the rest of the musicians. I can picture crowds really enjoying jumping around to this song, having the time of their lives.

"Holy Smokes" for sure has three of the qualities you would want: prominent vocals, strong instrumentals, and perceptive lyrics. There are descriptive phrases as to how the protagonist of the song feels: “You never knew me, I showed you ghost. I shoot the lights out, to hide my eyes. You tell simple truths, I tell clever lies.” Our protagonist may be comparing themself to another person, one who hasn’t seen the real side of them yet: “Too much of this now, will leave you in a dark road. Wake up in pieces, wake up and choke.” To me, it sounds like the person the protagonist is speaking to is saying these words to them in return, urging them to improve their well-being. As the second verse comes in, we continue to get more lyrics that give us insight into this person’s life. They’re self-aware of how they’re being poorly perceived by the people around them: “Here comes the ambulance, I leave the whole street in a trance. Out of his mind, they say, solid chance.” I like how we are given someone in the song who we can attach to. They have similar characteristics to myself and other people I know which makes them really relatable, especially for their rowdier young adult audience.

Overall, “Holy Smokes” is another great song in the discography of The War Toys. It has me bopping my head along to it with how catchy and uplifting it sounds and the edge to the vocals and overall production is really empowering and reminds me a lot of the older pop punk I used to hear back in the day. But, the song still sounds really fresh and fits with the new influx of modern rockers in the local music scene. I’m happy to have been given the chance to review this song and am excited for what’s to come from the band!

Be sure to check out The War Toys and stream their newest single, “Holy Smokes” everywhere you listen to music!

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