Punk as a genre has become stagnant and boring. Most bands seem happy to stay within well-tread territory and release the same albums over and over again. Rarely is anything new being created, and even more rare is the coming of anything good. On their debut full-length, Triple Your Work Force, Four Volts don't really break any new ground, but their spin on the old genre clichés is very fun, energetic, and even...um...good. Good? Well, that's something new.
The album opens with "Didn't You Used to Be Invisible?" Synth bleeps and boops along with a solid drum beat before Danny Tieman's staticy vocals jump in. The song kind of drags until it gets to the big, anthemic chorus. From there the song and album really take off and become a lot more fun and catchy. The style, especially the vocals, bring to mind the Sex Pistols, albeit a lot more poppy. Next comes "Heartworm." This song is ridiculously catchy, old-fashioned pop-punk in the vein of the Ramones (complete with "oohs" and handclaps in the background), but there is also a bit of "Linoleum"-esque NOFX to be heard in the chorus. Tieman's vocal delivery becomes more and more frenzied until he eventually breaks into screams at the end. "Bedlam on the Beat" is by-the-book punk rock, but Lisa Cuomo's background "oohs" give the song a great, old-fashioned pop feeling. Once again Tieman turns up the intensity at the end, instantly becoming one of the better vocalists in punk rock today. The punchy "Mary Said" is very like the Clash in sound and the lyrics about relationships are deceptively insightful. "Rearrange Me" is probably what Wire would sound like if they hailed from New York rather than the U.K. These five songs are probably the album's best. Each one is a fun new take on old punk staples.
Towards the end of the album the focus turns more serious with the songs coming after the all-synth place-holder "Outpost." They're all moody and slower with attempts at deep and meaningful lyrics. "Way In" has a great wall of drumming which is good, but there's too much static on the mics and the whole thing just sounds like a bad Pixies impression. "Hat Trick" sounds kind of like Sonic Youth and is probably the best of the late album songs. These songs are kind of dull compared to the energy and fun of the album's first half. Maybe if they mixed it up and threw these in earlier rather than having two distinct halves it would've worked better. This way kind of kills what could've been a great album. These songs aren't bad at all; they just aren't as good as the first half.
Triple Your Work Force is an album in two parts. First, you have perfect pop-punk with all of the best influences from both the old and new schools. Second, you have what sounds like a band that isn't sure if they want to play punk or indie. I think this division was a major blunder and if the fast and slow tracks had been spread out a little more evenly this could've been a great album. All in all it's still really good, there is just one small something that seems to be missing. This is still a fantastic debut and I can't wait to hear more from this band.