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Squirtgun: Fade to BrightFade to Bright (2003)
Reviewer Rating: 2.5
Contributed by: greg0rbgreg0rb
(others by this writer | submit your own)
Back early in high school, I was still new to punk and bought albums often just because I had heard their name somewhere. Many foolish purchases were made of albums and bands I never listen to anymore (cough-Pennywise-cough). Back in 1997 I bought Squirtgun’s “Another Sunny Afternoon” and even back then it bored me except for a few songs like “Field Trip” and “Hey Louis”. I rarely listen to it, and have not kept up on the band, assuming they were releasing album after album of the same stuff.
I saw some banner ads for the new album of theirs, and later got the CD to review. I discovered that in reality, they haven’t put out ANY full-lengths since “Afternoon”! If I had kept up on them, I would have known that they have been busy, Mass and Dan playing in other bands like Screeching Weasel, Common Rider, and The Methadones, while Flav and Matt were back in school. Matt got his Masters in creative writing and has been teaching and publishing works, and Flav got a PhD in molecular genetics! Also, Mass of course has been recording at Sonic Iguana in Indiana, so these guys haven’t just been sitting around.
So what has six years done to their sound? The answer is not much. They are on Honest Don’s now, but it’s still that sound Lookout! was famous for back in the mid-late ninteys: straight up pop punk, Ramones-style. There are poppy melodies in all the songs, with “Never Fit,” “She’s Ohio” and “Model Builder” being of the catchiest and also my picks off the album. There are a couple songs with a different flavor, like “Make it Wreck” which is a little less poppy and faster, and features “no’s” and “yeah’s” screamed by Justin of Anti-Flag. Other guest appearances include Kris of the Ataris, Tim of Allister, and Mike Park.
At first listen, the lyrics seem immature and simple, because when you only fully understand the choruses, you hear things like “Please be mine/ Woah oh oh” and “She smiled at me”. I’m like “what the hell, the singer is a creative writing teacher, and we get lyrics like this?!” But then I looked in the lyric booklet to find that some of those simpler ones are by the other guys, and the ones by Matt are suprisingly well written and metaphorical beyond a simple analysis – or maybe they’re just weird. For example, in “Kiss Your Language” he sings “My attention shivers, here’s a ship / It’s in a bottle, and a parrot giving lectures / I’m ashamed, I won’t go dancing / All the landing strips are frozen / Maybe I can kiss your language.” Ooookaaay…
The enhanced features on this CD are two videos- “Model Builder,” which goes with the theme of the CD artwork because it is a strange-looking kid putting together the models of the band, who then play the song. It is all computer animated of course, and it is kind of low-fi and reuses a lot of the same footage, but it’s still a good watch. The other video is for the song “Chemical Attraction” which is not on this CD; it appeared on their recent Teen Idols split and on “Pounded- The Official Comic Book Soundtrack.” The song is not the best, and the video is mainly them playing the song in a practice space mixed with stock footage of scientists, all with a nifty red filter over it!
“Fade to Bright” is more solid than “Another Sunny Afternoon” and is an enjoyable listen, with more lasting value than most releases of this nature. I still can’t say it will make its way back into my stereo too often after this review is posted.
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