Man Alive - Open Surgery (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Man Alive

Open Surgery (2005)

The Militia Group

Israel's Man Alive first came to my attention in Jericho's Echo, a documentary about the Israeli punk scene. To me, the mere existence of punk scenes in places like Israel is heartening; in these parts of the world, it can be a truly vital subculture that doesn't just act as an outlet for people, but as a true reflection of the ideas and motivations of people who live in vastly different circumstances.

That said, it should be clear that Man Alive, like their hometown compatriots Useless ID, seem to eschew politics in the lyrics. Open Surgery is not a political album; if you expect deep insights into the Israeli-Palestianian conflict, you'll be disappointed, but the music itself, which seems steeped in `90s pop-punk, does make up for that.

The album certainly opens with one of its strongest tracks, the relentlessly catchy "Give Me a Sign" and other standouts like "Against the Wall" and the zippy "Stationary." The real potential of the band is revealed in "Catch Phrases, Slogans and Chants," which manages to take the band into unknown territory but with a well-bred combination of speedy pop-punk and Strike Anywhere-type breakdowns.

The album isn't truly unique by any means and might have been one of many a few years ago, but the healthy dose of shout-along choruses, fast tempos, big guitars and upbeat attitudes are not just nostalgic these days, but refreshingly simple and fun to listen to. The Millencolin comparison is one you'll likely hear a great deal when people talk about this band; the mid and fast tempos, the straightforward harmonies and sharp but not overproduced sound seem like trademarks of that band and fans of Millencolin and their genre will find much to enjoy in this record.