Mean Jeans - On Mars (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Mean Jeans

On Mars (2012)

Dirtnap Records

Folks, I was not emotionally prepared for the latest Mean Jeans release. Not only does take the band take its pop-punk all the way to Mars, but the members are no longer a living tribute to Ramones rip-offs. I audibly gasped at the presence of guitar solos, of additional instrumentation outside of the standard guitar/bass/drums set-up, at the notion that the band would jump to its End of the Century without writing a Rocket to Russia. For a moment there, I forgot my existence, so great was my shock and dread.

Then I remembered to stop being melodramatic and I slammed On Mars right on in my earholes again. Turns out Mean Jeans can still be good, even when they slow down on tracks like "School Lunch Victim." The important thing is that they still write catchy, fun little ditties about getting drunk-and-a-half.

Besides, that whole downplaying the Ramones influence really is quite mild. Tunes like "Forever in Mean Jeans" and "Ready 2 Rip" definitely carry a certain stamp. It's just not as overt as on Are Your Serious?. But they all still sing like Joey Ramone. They're still playing pop-punk. And they still have hilarious song titles ("2 Twisted 2 Luv U," for example). So while "Don't Stop Partying" is a lot slower, giving the chorus more room to breathe, it's still very much in the Jeans' wheelhouse. These are party jams.

Oddly enough, diluting the Ramones worship might have done the band some good. On Mars feels hookier, better. Are You Serious? was a great record, but a lot of its songs disappear in a flash. On Mars feels better written, like the band intentionally set out to make something a little bit poppier, and therefore more memorable.

Or maybe they just smoked too much weed in the studio this time around. I don't know. Point is, On Mars might not be the album fans expect, but it's the one they need. Mean Jeans are growing up, for whatever that's worth.