Review Summary: Madina Lake make a catchy pop-punk album but fail to bring anything new to the table.
Madina Lake are a pop-punk/post-hardcore outfit from Chicago. They started off by appearing on the daring TV show Fear Factor. The brothers Nathan and Matthew (who do vocals and bass respectively) were dared by peers to apply for the show and were accepted on the “twins’ episode” the network had planned for. The 50,000 or so dollars could have helped launch their career but instead gave them some nasty rashes and pains. When the band started to tour, the ordeal the brothers went through just made them stronger and more confident on the road.
Their sound is very simple to point out. Madina Lake’s sound blends into the rest of their ilk, they take the hardcore out of synthesiser mad Enter Shikari
, acquire the pop-punk goodness of My Chemical Romance
and squeeze out the screamy part of Alexisonfire
. It’s all familiar stuff and anyone who resides in the United Kingdom and goes anywhere near music channels will recognise leading single “House of Cards”. A first-rate choice for a single with it’s brain-munching chorus and teenage relative lyrics. The song is able to get into your head even if you despise the song. It is most unfortunate that the rest of the album doesn’t really differ from that one track. The only noticeable difference between them is either an upbeat or down in the dumps setting.
Everything is produced to the extreme, everything is so clear and there are absolutely no faults in the playing, I guess that’s what Roadrunner does to you. The guitarist is able to hold up fine on his own and brings the core melodies to the surface. What also contribute to this factor are the samples that are sprung throughout. The bass adds to the depth quite a lot and the drummer is solid but not particularly excellent in his field. Everything is fine apart from the vocals which grate my head so much I could make a grated skin sandwich (hey, when did I say I was good at metaphors?). It’s typical whiny pop-punk stuff and reminds me of the vocalist from Hawthorne Heights
which is a band no one wants to be compared to. I think it’s time pop-punk got a few new ideas for a vocal style as it’s becoming so passé.
As you can guess, this album is flawed. This would be a cool, neat package if the production wasn’t so clear and pristine; the riffs weren’t so cliché and that the vocalist didn’t do the same nasally voice every pop-punk band has did in the past five or so years. There are some very well done tracks on here that are surrounded by mediocrity. Nothing here is outlandishly bad but things get bland, and they get bland quick. This is another fine example of a band that jumps on the bandwagon and will fall off it just as fast unless they innovate themselves. The album is saved by the ridiculously catchy songs such as “Here I Stand”, “House of Cards” and “One Last Kiss”. While it is catchy, they sure have some horribly insipid lyrics. Here is this excerpt from the best song on the album: ‘Now I can't look you in your eyes because the guilt is killing me. I try to disconnect my heart again just so I can breathe. I want to be myself again but I just can't cause’. On paper, it reads just like a form of angst-filled high school poetry and with Nathan’s nasally voice screeching and defecating the lyrics, it just makes it all that worst. This had the potential to be a great album but falls short by quite a margin. This doesn’t bring any new ideas to the table.
But why the hell does my opinion matter? The kids will love it anyway.