Back in 2010, I picked up an EP by Mailbox Baseball which opened with the standout song “Dead End Streets” in the vein of Doc Hopper/Sinkhole and, although not able to maintain that standard, proceeded to deliver some enjoyable ska/pop-punk that had more of a NOFX lite kind of sound. From reviewing that release I was able to get hold of a track from the forthcoming album (now released) which hinted that Mailbox Baseball had indeed taken the ball, made some yardage and improved on what was their previous release.
With anticipation, I received Forward in Motion and noted that the track I’d already heard, “Making Lunch”, featured midway in the track listing. This led me to believe that the first couple of tracks would be even better than what I’d already heard, but the title track opens the album and does so without really grabbing my attention and forcing me to listen—albeit, it does have some catchiness to it.
However, as the album progresses it becomes evident that musically it is heavy on the ska/pop-punk approach in a very lite and restrained kind of way. “Making Lunch” does stand out as one of the stronger songs here, but I am frequently fooled into thinking that a number of the other tracks could match this by energetic intros which unfortunately fade into songs that seem to be overly reserved, lacking the spark I would have expected/preferred. I appreciate that it’s not necessary for all music to have an edge to it, or to be played ferociously, and whilst there is nothing wrong with the songs inherently, I just feel that they could be so much more if they added a harder, faster element to them. “Stockyard Station”, which follows “Making Lunch”, is the strongest track here and it’s no surprise that it has a bit more power than anything else here.
With that off my chest, the album is not a bad listen, with vocals duties shared between Brad and Jen, which does add a bit of variation to what is on offer. As such, this is a pleasant album, especially if you want something that doesn't intrude too much to what you’re doing or if you fancy a relaxing time without feeling the need to get up and dance. (As I write these words, I can see how it might be taken that I’m not being positive here, but it is an okay record—just that and nothing more.)
The NOFX lite description is prevalent throughout Forward in Motion, although it would have been good to have heard a bit more of the Doc Hopper/Sinkhole sound too. It’s a bit of a shame as I had hopes that appear to beyond the reach of this record. Perhaps I should lower these hopes and just accept Forward in Motion for what it is, and not for what it’s not or what it could be? Personally, I’d rather a band that adds a bit of ska to a more urgent and consistent punk sound—bands like Suicide Machines or Lightyear.