Review Summary: Watching Paint Dry: The Pop-Punk Musical
Ever read the press release for upcoming albums? Here’s a tip if you never have - it’s perfectly normal for the bullshit alarms to be wailing inside your mind whilst skimming through the chuckle-worthy, hyperbole-laden paragraphs. However, after taking a minute to read through the press release for possibly the dumbest album title of the year – Self-Titled Album (that’s seriously what it’s called) – it really does seem there are few that can bull
better than Victory Records. In this instance, they’re talking about pop-punk band All-Time Low…sorry, The Higher…wait, no, that’s not it…The Cab?...nope; but we’re getting closer…ahh, here it is.
The Audition. Where faceless, whiny modern pop-punk is the name of the game.
But back to the press release. “The band refused to use the digital audio workstation to fix the little mistakes, making this album a derivative of their actual live performance”, boasts the second paragraph. “No frills, no fakery – just rock & roll”.
Not only is this about twenty-six kilometres down the road from “rock & roll”, but this album has got to be one of the most overproduced and very cleanly polished albums this side of your little brother’s fringe. Not a foot is put out of line – every guitar straight to-the-point with precious little distortion, every click-track drumline free of any ringing snares or loud cymbals and every vocal harmony symmetrically aligned with that soulless magic that makes bands like these so damn memorable and distinctive. In other words, it’s unmemorable fluff. No fun, no authenticity – just rubbish.
The saving grace of a lot of modern pop-punk bands is some kind of bite or integrity, or even a distinctive singer. No such luck for the Audition- Danny Stevens sounds like every other one of his contemporaries, except he doesn’t even sound happy to be there. Think Patrick Stump with absolutely no talent – and if you’re of the opinion that Stump already has no talent, then you can only imagine just how bad Stevens is. Even the lyrics have absolutely no substance – “I don’t ever want to fall in love again/Don’t wait for me, I’m no saint you see” is just a taster from the idiotically titled “Stand on Your Feet” (as opposed to what other part of your anatomy?). The attempt at a heart-felt ballad a la Anberlin on “Los Angeles” really does appear to be the only song on the record remotely close to being a decent listen…and this is only the case because it sounds so much like an Anberlin song.
is bad. Really bad. And it’s not just because it’s completely unoriginal and completely soulless music. It’s the fact that pop-punk, even the mediocre stuff, is supposed to be about fun and having a good time. This album not only has no energetic spark, it’s practically a cure for insomnia. Avoid at all costs – unless you still use MySpace regularly, only know one dance move in mosh pits (jumping up and down in time with the song), and are waiting for Pete Wentz to divorce Ashlee so that he will come and marry you instead.