I guess looks aren’t everything.
From the look of the album -- the bright pink color scheme and happy and goofy (and short hair-styled) band picture on the back -- I was expecting some pleasant pop-punk. I could go for a happy, positive band after all the tough guy posturing and gloomy long-haired emo I come across these days. I could go for double-time beats, major keys, and I could do without the screaming and silly paint-by-numbers breakdowns.
Makeshift3 immediately prove that looks aren’t everything, and after a pleasing double-time intro with a dark Strung Out feel, they succumb to the pressure of screaming and breakdowns in the first full track “The Darkest Night of the Soul.”
This is their fourth album since their inception in 1995 but it’s the first I’ve heard, so I can’t compare with their past material. But here on Fluorescent Black, half the time they sound like Blink as on the poppy “Nine Year Love Story,” and I am down with that until the unnecessary screaming at the end (“I wanna be right by your siiiiiide!”) and a guitar solo that tries to be showy but never seems to land on the right note. Then all of a sudden they sound like a different band, continuing onto the next track, “Cut, Poison, Burn” with its chugging palm-muted rhythms, guitar harmonics, and hideous screams. It’s obvious these guys wear their influences on their sleeve, and as I check out their bio I find Blink-182, of course, as well as New Found Glory, along with harsher bands like Pantera and Thrice. “Six Hours to Phoenix” has a bunch of elements that remind me of “First Date” or some other Blink song, but then they have to throw some screaming in there too.
Evidently these guys are a Christian band too, but I wouldn’t hold them against them. They seem like good fellas and they don’t beat you over the head with it, in fact, I didn’t realize this was their thing until I read an article included with their press materials. Not until closer “Hiyayda Martian 3.0 Gold” (whatever that means) did I hear a more obvious reference -- “Because if you’re here with me / God’s here with us / That’s all that counts." Not a big deal, for me at least.
They make a decent attempt at mixing their favorite genres, but sometimes it’s a shock. Some of the breakdowns and metal guitar stylings are pretty decent and they almost had me convinced that that is what they do best. But for the most part, I think they should focus on the punk side, because screaming is way too trendy. Fluorescent Black is definitely a strong showing of polished punk rock, the product of high school friends who have honed their skills over time to become a tight unit.