On Late Bloomer's third full length, Waiting, the band have truly come into their own with an achingly human record that explores the crushing uncertainty of adulthood through a mix of hook-driven guitar rock and punk urgency. The album centers on ever-changing perspectives, with all three members (drummer Scott Wishart, bassist Josh Robbins, and guitarist Neil Mauney – who fittingly all met in Wishart's own shop, Lunchbox Records) contributing to the writing process to utilize their personal narratives, as well as points-of-view completely outside their own.
While much of Waiting's core revolves around the anxiety and confusion of everyday life, sonically the album finds the Charlotte, NC-based band more confident and focused than ever. After honing their sound through their 2013 debut and 2014's lauded Things Change, the band teamed with producer/engineer Justin Pizzoferrato (Dinosaur Jr, Pixies, Speedy Ortiz, Parquet Courts) on Waiting. The result effortlessly blends each members' seemingly disparate influences into a dynamic sound that ranges from roaring to tender – often within the same track. The fuzzy familiarity of college rock effortlessly collides with the intensity of punk and hardcore, all serving to propel the band's biggest choruses to date.
Lyrically, Waiting explores universal challenges like reconciling one's past self with the present, and striving to realize what's worth holding onto and what's better left behind. Late Bloomer's roots in DIY punk provide an innate desire to question the world around them – an instinct that doesn't simply go away with adulthood – but on Waiting the band is quick to question the cultures of these music scenes as well. Tracks like "Sleeve" and "January" take aim at toxic male behavior and call for less posturing and more listening, while elsewhere the band dissects the outdated idea of a "rock and roll lifestyle" being a guise for darker problems.
Much of Waiting finds the band trying to see the world through someone else's eyes, looking at interpersonal relationships from a different direction as they develop and dissolve, and trying to figure out how to navigate it all while life inevitably keeps moving. Album closer "Life Is Weird" sums up Waiting's existential melancholy but also reiterates the album's underlying sense: there's something worthwhile in the strangeness.