Pop-punk is shaping up to have quite the year in 2016. Blink-182 and Modern Baseball both have new albums out this summer, while newcomers like Lakefront are looking to push the genre's popularity upwards and onwards for the foreseeable future. Right at the forefront of this push is the Chicagoland quintet Real Friends.

Formed in 2010, the group had self-released five EPs before jumping up to pop-punk powerhouse Fearless Records in 2014 for their debut studio album, Maybe This Place Is The Same And We're Just Changing. Peaking at number 24 on the Billboard 200, the album was a commercial success and received heaps of praise from alternative music outlets. But the famous adage is that a band has their whole life to write the first album and only a couple years for the next one. This is where Real Friends has found themselves with their sophomore effort, The Home Inside My Head.

The instrumental might of guitarists Eric Haines and Dave Knox, bassist Kyle Fasel and drummer Brian Blake remains firmly intact. Haines and Knox in particular punch through each and every track. Whether engaging in moody noodling such as on the evocative 'Mokena' or ripping searing anthemic highs like on 'Empty Picture Frames,' the interplay between the two is quite compelling.

Dan Lambton still holds down the vocal department skillfully, with Fasel providing the lyrics. Fasel has an extensive collection of spoken word poems that supplements his material with Real Friends well without the theatrics and pizzazz of performing as a singer. But Lambton does powerfully and convincingly push the emotionality of Fasel's words--most of them negative. The pains of feeling trapped, heartbroken and more are all captured here and slammed at listeners for the duration of the record. It isn't anything out of the ordinary or groundbreaking for previous listeners or even those remotely familiar with the genre, but it still does the job provided you are a fan of the lyrical preoccupations that dominate this brand of music.

The Home Inside My Head feels largely like a sleek continuation of Real Friends' debut record. The album does close on an intriguing peek into what may lay ahead. The acoustic beauty of 'Eastwick' forces Lambton to restrain himself with gorgeous results, while 'Colder Quicker' takes one of the album's best guitar riffs and couples it with Lambton's finest vocal performance. The Home Inside My Head does a suitable job in following up a solid debut record, not falling pray to the sort of pratfalls that often come with crafting a follow-up LP. And while it isn't a far cry from Real Friend's first album, it still delivers an emotional punch with a hopeful glimpse of what's to come.