Review Summary: Muertos Vivo offers fans a darker, more serious Gob. It's also their best in years.
Gob is never going to be remembered as a key band in the pop-punk scene of, er…five or so years ago. At times they seemed, quite frankly, to be riding the coattails of more popular acts such as Green Day or Blink 182. But then again, they were also a blast to list to. Both The World According to Gob and Foot in Mouth Disease were fun, harmless pop-punk at heart, and the goofiness exhibited by the band was always pretty amusing. Their music videos featured a Gob-Zombie soccer game (I Hear You Calling) and some sort of bizarre Tennis/screaming match between the band (Oh! Ellin) for God-sake. But Muertos Vivos (Spanish for Living Dead) marks a change in Gob's direction. This is probably a good move on their part, as you can unfortunately only re-hash the same tired formula so many times before, no matter how amusing and nostalgic it is.
Don't get me wrong though. Muertos Vivos is still heavily rooted in pop-punk. What's missing from past records is the optimistic, happy-go-lucky sound heard in songs like For the Moment and Lemon-aid. Gob's fifth studio album is a darker, more mature (as mature as a band called Gob could be - it isn't completely juvenile this time) offering than anything they've previously released. Musically, Gob sometimes compliments these themes with heavier, power chord driven songs such as first single, We're All Dying, War is a Cemetery, and Underground - essentially the first half of Muertos Vivos), as well as slower, morose numbers ala the Jimmy Eat World-esque Open Wounds, and the electronic laced Face the Ashes, which make generally make up the second half. The definite highlight off Muertos Vivos, Still Feel Nothing, is one of the gloomiest songs Gob has written, and does an exceptional job on capturing the frustration and paranoia emphasized by the song's (passable, but somewhat meagre) lyrics. Given that Muertos Vivos isn't quite as upbeat or cheerful as some of Gob's older material, songs like the aforementioned Still Feel Nothing, Banshee Song, or even the album's closer, Wake Up, the album might not be the most impressive record on first couple listens, but it feels as though the Canadian quintet is attempting something new.
Muertos Vivos falls victim to the same slip-ups as Foot in Mouth Disease and The World According to Gob before it. Too much of the album sounds alike. The melodic riffs which open We're All Dying and About My Summer are nearly identical, and both Banshee Song and Open Wounds channel the same Jimmy Eat World-isms. Much like Sum 41's summertime release, Underclass Hero, Gob's fifth studio effort isn't quite as musically original as it could be, yet it remains a fun listen for the kind of album it is. That Muertos Vivos lacks the filler and obnoxious childishness of pop-punk albums past also reflects nicely on Gob's part. How long they can continue to write and record this brand of music is beyond me, but as long as main song writers Tom Thacker and Theo Goutzinakis can continue to make things sound interesting, I'll give it a listen.