Given their name and youth, and the fact that their press kit talks more about their DIY ethic than about their music (always a bad sign), I was completely surprised by their musical talent. For a youthful, peppy punk band, these guys have a fully realized sound, mixing up skate punk and ska without coming off like a two-dimensional punk-with-horns mess.
The ska elements are more than just bells and whistles. Rather than simply add sloppy brass to a fast song, they throw in trad organ work and good basslines, and the smart guitarwork avoids your average, spastic upstrokes (the last track, “Life Will Fade Away,” is especially good in melding trad ska and ska-punk). In many ways, they remind me of UK’s Spunge.
The titular synth elements in their music are very minor but done well – just a little synth effect on the vocals on a couple of the songs. Beyond just disguising the sometimes off-key vox, it sounds cool. I wish they did more of it.
On the minus side, the acoustic “Falling Away” feels self-indulgent and slows down the album, and it goes without saying that the reggae version of “Wooly Bully” is cringe-inducing. But this is otherwise a very strong album that – DIY or not – wouldn’t sound out of place in the Hellcat catalogue.
Bottom Line: Owes a thing or two to Rancid and Spunge, which isn’t a bad thing.
Notable Tracks: How Far, Evelene, The Fire, Life Will Fade Away