The Marked Men - Fix My Brain (Cover Artwork)

The Marked Men

Fix My Brain (2006)


The Marked Men's last album, On the Outside found them blasting through the scenery with their abrasive brand of pop-punk like it was nobody's business. While it was a solid effort on the whole, the record suffered from a lack of diversity between songs; as a result, those with stronger choruses tended to eclipse the plainer ones, which, not having much to offer besides buzzing noise, were usually skipped over.

On Fix My Brain, the Marked Men have toned down the speed and intensity levels to allow their superb pop sensibilities to shine through. Not only are the choruses bigger and more noticeable, but the use of background vocals has increased considerably too. And, boy, do they work -- the hummed "ooooh"'s that make up the chorus of "Sully My Name" are breathtaking, elevating its status to the best damn pop song I've heard all year. "Wait Here, Wait for You," despite having the most predictable pop chorus ever written, works wonderfully because the band keeps the instrumentation at a midpoint between soft and heavy. Vocalist Jeff Burke sounds surprisingly like the New Pornographer's A.C. Newman when he sings rather than yells. Besides, on the mellower tracks, a comparison to the Canadian gods of pop is not unwarranted.

The band's aggression remains present on "Someday" and "You Said Enough," the latter being possibly their most frantic song to date. While I admit a preference for the poppier numbers, the presence of such scorchers is well-balanced, and their inclusion helps diversify Fix My Brain rather than hold it back.

Spanning a mere 28 minutes, Fix My Brain just breezes by. While it feels shorter than its predecessors, it all has to do with the superior balance between songs -- after one listen, rather than feel overwhelmed like I did after hearing On the Outside, one feels compelled to give the album a second spin, and then a third.

While the Marked Men have always been a stellar bunch of songwriters, by fixing their sound along with their brains, they have placed themselves way up there with the Briefs as the leading modern interpreters of classic pop-punk.