Amuse - Shortcuts (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Shortcuts (2018)


I was a fan of Life Sucks, the Amuse EP from a year or two ago. It had a strong Blink-182 vibe, but it also had enough snotty, old school, Screeching Weasel/Queers style pop punk to appeal to older fans. There was a fair amount of nerdy, Lillingtons type stuff too. Musically and lyrically, Shortcuts is a little less in my wheelhouse. Still, I must acknowledge that it is a major step forward for the band. Under the tutelage of Dodgeball Records, Amuse has made a polished, well rounded LP.

A couple of songs from Life Sucks made it onto Shortcuts, including opener “I Don’t Want To”. (It was previously “F.U.Y.”.) It’s a song about having a troubled childhood, but still not wanting to grow up. It’s catchy as hell. The song “Life Sucks” shows up later too. The X-Files inspired “The Truth is Out There” is another winner. It might be a sequel to “I Want To Believe (In Me & You)”. It’s catchy as hell too. Like many Amuse songs, “Never Alone” references aliens. It’s also the type of song that will make young girls swoon. “Fantasy” will be relatable to anybody with a partner willing to let them chase their dream.

“A New Hopeless” epitomizes the band’s greatest strength. It’s their ability to write science fiction inspired love (or breakup) songs. (In case you’re thick headed, this song references the first Star Wars movie.) The second half of Shortcuts is not as intense as the first. They try to remedy that with “Thrasher” and “BACA”, a couple of short, fast punk songs. The highlight of the second half is the relatively somber “Rad Times”. It might remind you of NOFX at their most sincere. A mostly acoustic tune called “Lost Yourself” wraps things up on a rare serious note.

There’s really no ‘making it’ in punk rock anymore. Very few bands are earning a decent living doing it. That being said, I think this Indianapolis trio has as good a chance as anyone. Amuse isn’t reinventing the wheel, but they do pop punk about as well as anybody at the moment. Shortcuts is almost certain to lead these hard touring young guys to bigger and better things.