While the genres of pop-punk, emo and alternative rock have evolved for the better since their heyday several years ago, it’s hard not to pine for the sound that many listeners grew up listening to, which defined their adolescence. Thankfully, fans of late 00’s-era pop-punk can now rejoice, as famed connoisseurs of the beloved genre Fueled By Ramen / DCD2 Records have signed Games We Play (a.k.a. Emmyn Calleiro), a new act who sounds — according to Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz — “like a throwback, but from the future.”

To announce the momentous occasion a couple months ago — and to show Games We Play in action — Fueled By Ramen released a humorous YouTube video starring him and Pete Wentz, as well as a statement from Games We Play about his ecstatic thoughts on being signed by this particular label:

“My whole team—Johnny Minardi (Fueled By Ramen), manager Nano, and Pete—are all DIY hardcore pop punk kids … My dad was in a band, and I love people who grew up in the same scene. Once I met Johnny, I was like, ‘He’s my friend!’ Then, Pete and I hit off instantly, and he’s a genuine friend now. They don’t want me to be anything I’m not. They want me to be me.”

Not only is Games We Play genuinely hilarious, but he’s also an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. He does sound like a true throwback act in terms of sound and style — positive, powerful, charismatic, not-too-serious… except in all the ways that really matter. Along with the announcement video, Games We Play also released the accompanying music video for “I Hope You’re Happy,” which shows just why the act got signed in the first place. If heard blind, one might mistake the vocals for Yellowcard, the guitar riffs for Dashboard Confessional or the theatrical arrangement for Panic! at the Disco. “I Hope You’re Happy” is an absolute masterwork that shows just how far pop-punk has come and how its fun, provocative roots are what keep fans coming back.

Similarly, the lyrics are a journey all their own — mirrored brilliantly in the music video, which shows Games We Play speaking to a therapist who thwarts his attempts at ending up with the girl of his dreams at every turn. The songs starts with, “I’ve been selling skateboards, but he’s building rockets to the moon / Oh, I wish I was playin’ / He went to Notre Dame and I dropped out like a fool (damn)” — a typical pop-punk ethos that sounds amazing with Games We Play’s vocals. Yet toward the end, the song reaches a fantastic climax with the lyrics, “I hope he leaves you like you left me / And you wake up feeling empty / And you love someone who said he’d never leave,” before evolving into an acceptance of, “Nothing’s set in stone, maybe when we both are grown / Then you’ll be happy, with or without me” — one of the most mature sentiments ever uttered in a song from this genre.

If the signing of Games We Play by Fueled By Ramen / DCD2 Records is any indication, the pop-punk genre will continue to deservedly live on in good hands for a very long time. Games We Play just finished supporting Point North and CAMINO on their U.S. tours over the last two months. You can still see Games We Play perform at Guadalupe River on July 23, Four Chords Music Festival on September 10 and Furnace Fest on September 23. Be sure to check out the music video and Spotify for “I Hope You’re Happy” below!

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