In recent years, many styles of music have had a resurgance or birth in popularity. Garage rock made a huge comeback. Screamo, a genre dead since 1999 or so, got "revived" with mixed results. And being political hardcore is as fashionable now as it was in 1984. But when was the last time you heard a really, really, really good pop-punk record? And I'm talking about one you'll be listening to not just all year long, but for years to come. Every song is a gem in it's own special way, every hook is instantly hummable, every chorus is instantly memorizable, every vocal harmony is instantly orgasmic aurally.
These records don't exist. They're like the Rosetta Stone or Holy Grail of pop-punk; many attempt to find this hidden treasure, all perishing along the way. The Gamits' Antidote isn't that mystic record, but I'll be damned if it's not as close as it's come for me in quite a number of years.
The Gamits' sound, ironically, takes a bit of a darker turn on this record, in tracks like "Curious Vanessa Black" and "Born and Raised Afraid". These are probably the most intense songs musically and lyrically in the trio's catalog. Lyrical images of drinking, smoking, illness, and death are spread throughout the album's eleven tracks, and coupled with this decidedly harder musical edge, many a comparison to Jawbreaker [circa Dear You] could be made. Ironically enough, acoustic album closer "Bridges" could easily be snuck into Jets To Brazil's live set and no one would ever know.
The band still knows how to have fun, however. "Open Window" makes excellent use of handclaps as well as a perfectly placed waltz breakdown. Seriously. I keep imagining a music video for this song taking place at a Greek wedding reception, with the band being the wedding singers, the relatives all doing the clapping part, plates being broken on key cymbal crashes, and the bride and groom waltzing. Honestly, take one listen to the song and you'll understand my vision.
Seemingly gone from the band's list of influences is Weezer. On 2000's Endorsed By You, tracks like "Sorry Song" reeked of Weezer's punchy alt rock. That's not to say that the band has no punch; far from it. They've just matured as musicians. Their ability to write slower songs with just as much kick hasn't diminished, though, with tracks like "Golden Sometimes" sounding like something That Thing You Do's The Wonders would have eventually written for the Playtone catalog, complete with buildups before the chorus, and "oh la la la" background vocals.
It's tough to have a four year hiatus between full-lengths, no matter what type of music you play. People forget about you, no matter how good you are. Being a pop-punk band by nature tends to let people think the music you make is disposable and easily produced. After playing this album virtually nonstop for a number of weeks now, I assure you that while I'm sure many pop-punk bands write their albums as fast as they record them, these tracks are crafted with the love and attention seen in so few bands today. Each one is a winner, whether it be for Chris Fogal's soul-baring lyrics and ripping guitar leads, Scott Swarers' surprisingly unique basslines, or Jason Walker's understated and solid drumming. If you glance to the reviews sidebar right now, you'll see close to a dozen other releases that came out on June 29th, same as this disc. As someone who has heard a majority of those discs, I can tell you that out of all those new releases, this is the one that you'll be listening to years from now, long after trendhoppers and bandwagoneers have disappeared.
How To Escape
How To Escape
View e-card and stream five songs here
Stream entire album here