The Mopes - Accident Waiting To Happen (retro review) (Cover Artwork)

The Mopes

Accident Waiting To Happen (retro review) (1999)

Lookout! Records

Screeching Weasel owned me for much of the 90’s. And if I wasn’t listening to them, then it was probably the Riverdales. And while I was aware of the Mopes existence, I mistakenly ignored them and have been forever sorry for my ignorance. As I would discover a few years after release, 1999’s Accident Waiting To Happen was a fantastic piece of the pop punk universe.

The Mopes consisted of punk royalty, counting Dan Vapid, B-Face, Dan Lumley, and Jughead amongst their ranks. Yet, despite these shared roots, The Mopes were something different. They offered up something a little less angsty, a little less punky. This was a sort of power pop punk. Gone were most of the Ramones trappings, replaced largely by gorgeous hooks, longing melodies, and backing vocals that sounded from the heavens. That they were wrapped in mid-to-up-tempo rhythms and buzzsaw guitars only amplified the pop sugar contained within.

Accident doesn’t seem to be of the Weasel-universe. Once in a while there might be a whiff of something like that, maybe in a Jughead guitar lead or a hooky bass line. But Dan Vapid sings with a sentimental and melancholy restraint that lacks all of the snot and angst of a Ben Weasel. And the mid-tempo guitars slash and ring like something more akin to Cheap Trick than the bands from which they came. This is a tasteful pop punk, one that places an emphasis on the pop.

Accident offers up lots of great songs filled with girl-centric lyrics, hooks, and melodies that we later snagged from The Methadones and that we’ve now come to expect each time Dan Vapid and the Cheats give us something new. Opener “My Heart Won’t Bleed For You” epitomizes this with an insistent melody and driving rhythm that just obliterates my brain. Elsewhere, “Baby Doll” and “Glad You’re Gone” drag you right in with hooks for days and bouncy drums. Each has a real rock and roll guitar solo, with the ghost of Chuck Berry coming to the front, especially on “Glad”. “She Fell for Me” has a great back-and-forth vibe on the chorus and comes off like something from Kerplunk-era Green Day. Even the slow down “7-11”-rip, “Circle K”, beams with a sound that seems to phone in from 1955. It’s good stuff.

If there are any complaints I’ve heard voiced (and they are mostly negligible), they come in two forms. Accident has a handful of instrumentals that sound like spaghetti western music soundtracking a surf-based teen flick from the 1950’s. They kind of seem like filler, with only “Hang ‘Em Ten High” standing out significantly. Accident also seems to take a hit for sounding a bit samey throughout, with some saying that everything blends together as the record goes on at a mid-to-uptempo pace. I just disagree. First, the instrumentals (that I already half-heartedly complained about) help to break up the record. They are different enough from the rest in style and sound to keep things fresh. Second, the sound is consistent, but in the service of some fantastic pop songs. With the variety of melodies and hooks, the songs do ultimately distinguish themselves and make the record a wonderful listen.

With Accident, The Mopes made a mature power pop punk record, one that was greatly different from their lineage. Instead, this showed a path towards maturity for Vapid, B-Face and company and would light the way for Dan Vapid and the Cheats going forward.