Review Summary: Pizza posi punx.
After releasing a self-titled EP in 2009 that floated around pop punk blogs on the internet, New Jersey’s Crucial Dudes, or “Crudes” for short, quickly began gaining steam. The EP featured 5 original, fast paced punk tunes (think Saves the Day meets Latterman), and a cover of Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up
. Subpar production quality aside, Crucial Dudes came out swinging and announced in 2010 that they were working on a full length titled 61 Penn
. Several months later, after dealing with unmastered leaks of the album surfacing on the web, Crucial Dudes released their album digitally a bit early via Jumpstart Records’ Bandcamp, and 61 Penn
proved to be an excellent continuation of their EP’s direction.
The first track on the album, Mt. Chill, You’re Climbin
, is an upbeat instrumental intro that sets the mood for what is to come, and no time is wasted as it flows into the first real track, Doubt
. Already, it is obvious that there has been improvement in both the vocal and production departments since the EP, as the mix is now much clearer, yet still powerful and gritty, and the auto-correction on the vocals has been toned down. The vocalist (and lyricist) Jay Bittner combines melody and catchiness with the traditional rawness of punk vocals, giving Crucial Dudes a certain edginess that works quite well. The third track, titled Boom, Roasted
(referencing The Office
), is the most energetic and perfectly displays the edge and emotion that Crudes pack into their short songs, as Jay shouts about a girl who didn’t stay true to herself, saying, “Neck deep in what you couldn’t be!”
The album has an excellent balance of speed and tastefulness, and doesn’t pound you with fast drum beats for too long without letting up every once in a while for a break, such as the slower instrumental (apart from whoa-ohs) track Mad Nice
, or the bassline buildup in On Leaving
. The guitarwork on the album is also notable, combining melodic octave chords and riffs with hard-hitting chugging. If there is one thing to be said about Crucial Dudes, it is that they do a very good job of avoiding gimmicks that tend to be seen in pop punk. For example, their songs are entirely breakdown and gang-chant free, which is always appreciated.
The album wraps up nicely with a re-recorded version of a song from the EP, Small, Bent, and Ugly
, which is admittedly one of the most fun songs I have heard in the past two years or so, featuring lyrics such as ”And I know tomorrow’s a better day, and I won’t let my *** ups bring me down again”
and ”So let’s pretend that it’s not about fashion, genres, tickets, merch or guarantees”
. Crucial Dudes are certainly one of the bands helping not only to keep pop punk alive, but bring some freshness into the genre, and their 2011 debut full length is solid evidence of that. 61 Penn
will undoubtedly be one of the best albums that the genre has to offer all year.