The debut album from emo/punk rock artist MattstaGraham called Prescribe Whatever tackles the issues of struggling with mental health, while battling the outside vices that make navigating this crazy life more difficult. The artist got “internet famous” through parodies of established emo rock bands like Dashboard Confessional, Taking Back Sunday, and My Chemical Romance, and garnered the attention of I Surrender Records, who promptly signed him. With a blend of familiar-sounding guitar tones powered with punk rock passion, this artist would be great for fans of The Homeless Gospel Choir, Gob, and Allister.
Starting off the set with the song that debuted on TikTok, “Gotta Be Productive,” MattstaGraham laments over the struggle of finding his motivation to get things done with so many outside distractions. The opening lyrics of “Wanna watch TV, but it’s not productive / Video games are not productive / I wanna get sleep, but it’s not productive / I still haven’t ate, gotta be productive,” set the scene of a person struggling with the basics. “Still Hearing About It” is a less abrasive-sounding punk rock about harping on what happened in the past, and finding the best path forward. It features some good guitar chord progressions to keep the song pushing forward, even when the lyrical material are looking backwards.
”I’m So Dope” is a lightning fast punk rock song that rocks like a TV theme song, and features some nice vocal harmonies in the chorus to bring layers to the sound. The title track ended up being my favorite in the set, with some great punk rock drumming, and vocals that range somewhere between Hot Hot Heat’s approach and Set Your Goals in their tone. “Not Everyone is Gonna Love You” is the closest that MattstaGraham gets to a swooning ballad on this set of songs, and it ends up being closer to a mid-tempo rocker about the danger of trying to please everyone’s opinion on yourself.
The middle of the record features several similar-sounding punk rock anthems like “Swindle,” “Bored With Myself,” and “Buy!” which screams along with a punk rock swagger, as MattstaGraham gets triggered about advertisements persuading him to buy a bunch of shit that he doesn’t need or have money for. Other songs like “Armchair Philosopher” bring a little more complexity to an album that could’ve benefited from more variety that’s found on this track.
Closing out the record with the pulsating “Avoiding the Issue” and the manic “Everything At Once” rounds out the set of songs found on Prescribe Whatever that leaves the listener with a scattered picture of where this artist could go forth in their musical career. There are plenty of great songs and moments found on this record, but the middle of the sequencing could’ve benefited from some varying tempo changes to give the audience a chance to reflect on the breakneck pace of the songs brought to the fold. Overall, this wasn’t a record I connected with as much as I was hoping to, but I may revisit it when life starts getting a little strange and complicated.