Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Screeching Weasel - First World Manifesto
Screeching Weasel released a new album. You know what's awesome about reviewing this? I'm guaranteed to enjoy it at least a little bit and I don't really have to TELL you anything about Screeching Weasel. Everyone already listens to them or at least knows who they are. I mean, have you ever been to a punk show without somebody there having a giant Screeching Weasel patch on their jacket? Not likely. So, gang, let's find out what Ben Weasel, Dan Vapid, and the boys are up to this week!
The album starts off with a song called "Separation of Church and Skate". Okay, it's really called "Follow Your Leaders" and is lyrically similar to that NOFX song about how punk has changed, and how they're "not your father's rock n roll band." If this song is a harbinger for things to come, then we're in store for a pretty sweet record. This is of course supported by the next songs being fun, cute songs that thankfully sound nothing like The Riverdales (a band that sucks (joking)). Ben Weasel has this rough, yet childish trademark pop punk voice that so many people have been borrowing since the beginning of time (the beginning of time being like 1986).
While a lot of these songs are just the straight-up ramonescore pop-punk style you're already expecting from these guys (you know, the same thing The Queers do), there's still other songs that are a bit more special than that shit. Like, "Dry Is The Desert" is definitely a pop punk song, but it's also composed differently and has this weird aura throughout. I don't really know what aura means, but in this case it means some sort of keyboard tone thing and backup vocals. It's a really cool song and the longest on the album, finishing at 2 minues and 45 seconds.
Okay, now I'm forced to recall reading at some point in time. Ben Weasel wrote a review of The Steinways' album Missed the Boat where he talked about how Grath Madden came up with catchy hooks and a funny line, and then just ended the song after getting it out of the way. And Ben thought he would've benefited from turning it into a full song, and that the record would've been better from it. Something about Grath confining himself too strictly within the walls of pop punk. Halfway through the record, I can go ahead and say that Weasel is doing nothing to break down these walls, and is basically doing exactly what he told Madden to do, other than the straying from form. There's nice hooks, nice lyrics, and nice little leads...and then multiple verses and whatnot. But it's still the same thing, it just takes up more time. It's not like it's some sort of burden or anything, because it's all really enjoyable. I just don't think they're going to do anything in the last half of this record to make me think they're anything other than a pop-punk band sticking to code.
That being said, I really like this record. Songs like "Three Lonely Days" and "Friday Night Nation" may be very easy defined as simply pop punk, but the instrumentals are as solid as ever, the lyrics are as enjoyable as it gets when it's not something Grath Madden wrote, and there's a really cool guitar solo at the end of the latter song. It's followed by "All Over Town", which has a very snotty sound to the vocals, and is of course more of the same, though. It's nothing special, I just wanted to mention that the vocals sound really cool in it. Actually, there's also a really cool guitar duet type thing that happens midway through, so there's that too. These guys are really rad instrumentally, and it makes the album that much more worth your time. There's a guitar solo in every song, though. I swear. It's no longer worth mentioning when one occurs.
Most of these songs sound the same. It's unforunate, but true. I mean, this won't bother any of their diehard fans, because they're used to it by now with all their other favorite bands, but I do have to mention it here at some point. The album closer "Little Big Man" isn't even really worth mentioning other than for the fact that it's the final similar sounding song on a decent album. It's a solid effort, I guess. I kind of lost the excitement I had at the beginning of the listening experience due to how much of the listening experience felt exactly the same. But, as background music, the songs will get stuck in your head and you'll know all the words the next time they play at your town's version of the Madison Theater for almost 20 bucks.