The best pop-punk album of the year goes to the Copyrights.
Now that that's out of the way, the Copyrights are back for the second year in a row with Make Sound on their new home Red Scare. Their followup to Mutiny Pop sees the band growing up a bit and making their own niche in the Lookout!/Ramonescore/pop-punk genre. "Kids of the Black Hole" opens up the album, complete with harmonica and shout-along chorus. And yes, I mean harmonica. It takes you by surprise and if you're like me you'll rewind the MP3 to hear it again to make sure it's there.
The album progresses with their "buzz-pop" sound, mixing the sounds of classics like Screeching Weasel, MTX and more contemporary labelmates Teenage Bottlerocket with a few nice new songwriting additions. Overall, the highlight of the album seems to be singer/bassist Fletcher's lyrics and voice. In "Planet Earth Nineteen-Ninety-Four," he sings about that magical year when most of us 25-year-olds and our friends were doing idiotic things like being "fucked up on listerine, smok[ing] anything we got our hands on, lov[ing] anyone we got our lips on." Oh to be in 8th grade again.
The whole album, in a way, is a pleasant timewarp for most people at this time. It's a throwback to a simpler form of punk rock: a few chords, a bunch of friends and some upbeat melodies. The first track on the "second side" of the release "Stuck in the Summertime" features Chicago's finest, Brendan Kelly, on backup vocals and is destined to be played at full volume in parking lots and house parties in every cul de sac and street corner this summer. "Caveat Emptor" has a simple refrain of "I won't get fooled again, I've seen what happens when you're playing not to win, I won't get fooled again" and the smoothest delivery of the album with its mid-tempo rocking.
The weakest part of this album is the length. 14 tracks seems to run a bit long for a band that overall sticks to the same formula. It's a good formula mind you, but perhaps cutting out some of the less memorable tracks would have been nice. As I write this and listen to the album for the 26th time, I just can't place which songs would get the axe though.
Overall, we've got yet another solid release from Red Scare and a band that has definitely come into its own and hopefully will become a staple of this recent resurgence of straightforward, fun punk rock like the Ergs!, Teenage Bottlerocket, the Steinways, and the Marked Men.