The Mr. T Experience - Love is Dead (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Mr. T Experience

Love is Dead (1996)

Lookout Records

If you want to boil down pop-punk to its most basic components, pick up the Mr. T Experience's Love is Dead. The vocals are snotty but the harmonies are pretty. The guitars are simple. The lyrics are most decidedly lovelorn. Recalling the Ramones, Green Day circa Kerplunk and, to use a more contemporary reference, Teenage Bottlerocket, MTX lets off a string of catchy tunes that showcase pop-punk's building blocks.

Let's skip opening cut "Sackcloth and Ashes" and start with start with track two, "Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba." The title serves as the chorus, and it's gotta be one of the simplest singalongs ever. But that's part of what makes pop-punk so appealing. "Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba" is the kind of song you can start singing along to on the first go-round. It's easy and fun, just like reading!

"I Just Wanna Do It With You" covers another well-worn pop-punk trope, devotion. Again, it's all in the title. The song bounces along while frontman Dr. Frank explains his infatuation to the object of his devotion: "I ask respectfully will you waste your life with me? / Anything you wanna do / I just wanna do it with you."

And then there's sadness. Oh man, Mr. T Experience loves being sad. But they cloak their lyrics in bright, shiny hooks. Observe "Semi-OK," which opens with "I've got this thing somewhere in between empty and dark always in my heart." "I'm Like Yeah, But She's All No" analyzes gender relations (It doesn't go well).

Love is Dead isn't the best pop-punk record of all time or anything (There's no such thing), but it does exactly what a good pop-punk record should do. It's light and catchy, but infinitely sad. Also, it's a deal in stereo with 16 tracks. That's a lot of songs about hooking up/breaking up/hooking up again.