MxPx - Secret Weapon (Cover Artwork)


Secret Weapon (2007)

Tooth & Nail

Longevity is one of the most difficult things for any band to maintain. One of the more common things you see is that over the years a group's sound will go over some sort of make-over that often alienates most fans (see Against Me!, AFI, Less Than Jake, blah blah blah), and then that longevity begins to run out. But fortunately for MxPx, despite the tweaking they've made, and the meager results of their last three albums (Before Everything & After, Panic, and the underwhelming second B-sides album Let's Rock), they've managed to keep a good portion of their fanbase. All those loyal listeners (myself included) that fell in love with records like Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo and/or Life in General in the `90s have been patiently waiting Magnified Plaid's return to form.

The question is, is Secret Weapon finally the treasure we've been looking for? Well, yes and no. What has happened is that for the first time in almost ten years is that MxPx did return to Tooth & Nail to record this new album, and I think that a return to familiar territory has been very refreshing for the trio.

Secret Weapon starts off very promisingly. The power trio of "Secret Weapon," "Shut It Down" and "Here's to the Life" are one of the best leadoffs for an album that they've had. They seem in much higher spirits than on Panic and the lyrics take on a much different light this time around. I was really confounded when I realized that there are hardly any songs on Secret Weapon about relationships -- a staple for the band for so long...not that I'm complaining, though. In its place are a lot more tunes that have a sense of finding oneself and moving on, which is a fitting theme for this record.

Honestly, I think that Secret Weapon will appeal to MxPx fans of both new and old. There's a bunch of other hard-nosed tracks (see "Contention," "Punk Rawk Celebrity" and "Never Better Than Now") that have been almost completely absent on releases for the last few years, and the more pop-friendly songs (like "Angels," and my favorite, "You're on Fire") are as consistent as they've always been.

But all in all, while I really feel that Secret Weapon is an improvement on Panic, I still feels it falls a little short of the expectations that were set for it. There are a few places were the album gets a little mediocre -- mostly when they retread territory they've been in lately, but it's got 19 tracks (if you were smart and got the deluxe version), so there should be enough places where even their biggest stickler finds something they'll like and thoroughly enjoy.