The picture is this: 4 Minnesota teenagers that just got out of high school get first place in a local talent contest and soon after start recording their debut album for Capitol Records and will play this year’s Warped Tour. My first reflections have been something like “punkrock marketing product” and “shitty pop-punk exploitation” and a slightly sorrow feeling towards the members in this band who probably will see their dreams getting shattered in no time and who can expect themselves a disappointing future where all the promises and money deals turn out to be fake.
It's possible the story ends there, only future will tell, but after listening to these 12 immensely mindsticking songs I have this hunch that this band actually has potential to hit it big when luck will be on their side. This is truelly bristling pop-punk stuff, very reminiscent to Flashlight Brown’s sound: hooky music, anthemic choruses that will have you sing along in no time, riffy and pretty fast guitars which keep the overall sound very vivid and last but not least a terrific lead vocalist that is backed up by the inevitable backing-choir which is really supreme here. This also is music that any true Blink-adept will appreciate. “Glad That I Lost You” for example could have been on a late 90’s Blink-album, and “I Don’t Know” could have been a Dude Ranch song. I don’t really understand why they chose “Lazy Generation” as the opening song though, which in my eyes is one of the weakest and most generic songs on the album. Quite funny and well done is the cover song of Mott The Hoople’s “All The Young Dudes”.
As usual with these releases, a lyricsheet (which didn’t come with my promo-copy anyway) is pretty dispensable, as it seems like these 18 year-olds have not a lot more to talk about than relationship problems (“Crack Ho”), the emptiness of their existence and the unbright future ahead of them (“Lazy Generation”, “I Don’t Know”) and overbearing parents (“Look At Your Son Now” and “Screw You”, which was the first song frontman Travis ever wrote at age 13).
The production is just… well major-label standards I guess, which is no surprise when you know that some major names were involved in the production of it and mixing was taken care of by Tom Lord-Alge (Blink 182, Fountains Of Wayne, LTJ, Limp Bizkit, Sum 41, Weezer). Yes, this is a product that will be food for heavy discussions in the “real punkscene” for sure. It’s clean, it’s accessible, it’s not refreshing, it’s not real art and there’s no trace of emotional tearjerking. This is probably a mass-consumer product, but I just love the sheer catchiness and the joyful feeling that I get when listening to this. I’ll just close my eyes for their fancy cliché look and all the media –rubbish that will come with it and sing along with those mindsticking choruses and conclude that this is a release that is representative of today’s popular punkmusic as seen on TV, but with a perfect bonus that it is actually an excellent release. I still think Blink 182’s “Dude Ranch” is one classic and very good album, so I see no need why I shouldn’t like this equally as much, although maybe there's a little more emphasis on the pop.