Is it fair to penalize a band for potential? Spraynard have what will be on many people's Top 10 lists at the end of the year. I wouldn't be surprised to see it as the album of the year. And those rewards will be well deserved. However, one thing nags me after multiple listens: This record could have been legendary.
The introduction, "I Care Not" sets the tone nicely. This is a whole new ballgame for Spraynard. Vocals, both lead and backing, are tighter and cleaner than on previous releases. While still very anthemic, these songs are layered and atmospheric. Hooks fly fast and steady, never letting the listener get too far away. At the same time, they make the breaks from fist pumps much more accessible. Funtitled is an easy album to like, and the life-affirming lyrics do nothing but enhance that.
It is a logical progression from Cut & Paste, one that works well. Spraynard is further distancing themselves from another band whose shadow they have long labored under (or, much more likely embraced). There are a multitude of standout tracks, chief among them being "The Denver Broncos vs The Denver Broncos". The refrain, "Today, I prove that I am more than a collection of comic books or a high score on a screen," should resonate loudly with a generation weaned on Playstation 2 and rather excellent comic film adaptations. Spraynard presents a stark contrast to the doom and gloom so prevalent in punk rock today.
However, that penalty is coming into play now. This is an album so close to being perfect that its faults burn that much brighter. There is almost a cohesive narrative running through the album, but it seems just a little too unfocused. Motifs that are bandied about, say sleep from the opener to the second track, work well together but seem to ultimately go nowhere. "Arcade games make my head hurt" in one song seems to complement his earlier, abovementioned cry of being more than a high score. A number of songs could have benefited from just a slightly longer runtime. There is a tendency to let the song fade with vocals, and while that works in small doses, the music here is interesting enough that I don't want it to simply fade away.
I would love to see this band work with a producer like J. Robbins, someone adept at tweaking and turning the little things and making the layers that much stronger. In a few years, when Spraynard is headlining The Fest and putting records out on Epitaph, people will look back to this album as essential listening. And essential listening it certainly will be, but I am confident that this is just a stepping stone for even greater work. This is a band that has made giant leaps and bounds with every record and while the album is great, I am left wanting to hear so much more, because I know it is there and I can't wait for it. I would recommend this album and especially this band to any fan of punk rock.