Donots - Amplify the Good Times (Cover Artwork)


Amplify the Good Times (2002)

Super Sonic

Wouldn't it be nice if America's current premier radio-ready pop-punk acts were as good as Germany's? The Donots are probably one of the world's most underrated pop acts. With over a half-dozen full-lengths and almost ten single releases, the Donots are quite active in the European scene. However, their fanbase in North America is next to non-existent. Though they've had various instruments of exposure in the U.S., including a solid showing on Fat's popular "Rock Against Bush" compilation series, tracks featured in various video games (including popular franchises such as Need for Speed and Burnout), and even a song created in cooperation with American punk heavyweights Anti-Flag, the Donots have never broken through in the U.S., or even made a dent in the market. Such is a shame, because the Donots are one of the world's greatest pop-punk acts.

With 2002's Amplify the Good Times, the Donots found themselves shifting from the bubble gum pop choruses of songs like "Big Mouth" and "Someone to Blame" to the manic rock of "Rollercoaster" and "Oh Yeah" to the soaring, finger-pointing sing-alongs of "Saccharine Smile" and "Up Song." This record was made to make an impact on radio, really. It still leaves me dumbfounded that no American major label tried to bring the Donots over here. The aforementioned "Saccharine Smile" could have been such a hit in the U.S. market. Oh well.

Anyway, how about the music? The Donots have absolutely mastered pop-punk. These guys make their U.S. peers in Sum 41, Good Charlotte and Sugarcult, to name a few, look like fools. More so, the band's lyrics, while nothing enlightening, are quite competent, which is something to be said, as most pop-punk acts just can't cut a solid lyric sheet nowadays (Billy Talent…).

The Donots do best when they find a medium between their pop and their punk. As a result, tracks like "Saccharine Smile," "Lady Luck," and "That's Armageddon" stand out much more than mellow pop numbers like "Get Going" and louder numbers like "Oh Yeah." Still, the only track on the disc that is absolutely dismissal is the "heartfelt" radio emo-esque "Worst Friend – Best Enemy." Not quite sure what they were thinking here, but it just doesn't fit in with the rest of the album. However, the rest of the album is a solid example of what radio-punk should be, assuming radio-punk should be.