Review Summary: A surprisingly personal pop-punk endeavor
Mixtapes is a band who does not shy away from their obvious influences; throughout the course of their second full length release on No Sleep Records, listeners are treated to songs that rely heavily on tactics present on numerous pop-punk records of the last decade. There is nothing that really sets Mixtapes apart from their innumerable contemporaries, but for some reason on Ordinary Silecence
, these young men and women have created something truly worth listening to. Whether it be the brevity and openness in which difficult topics are covered track to track, or the fact that this record is almost too damn catchy, nearly everything works together to form a cohesive record that will invariably transport listeners back to the glory days of pop-punk.
Whereas most pop-punk bands focus their attention on singing angrily at their ex-girlfriends and hometowns, Mixtapes aptly turns this aggression into introspection. Nowhere is this more prevalent than lead single “Bad Parts”, depicting hatred towards despicable personal habits/addictions while petitioning listeners to stop blaming everything around them, and to “start looking at the real you”. The album furthers this theme in nearly every song, as the album almost plays out as a diary of lead vocalists Ryan Rockwell and Maura Weaver, a fact that cannot help but remind one of the early days of blink-182 with the vocal trade-offs and relentless instrumentation. “A List of Things I Can’t Handle” is a shining example of the maturity present throughout this entire record. Amidst sailing chorus and driving verses it is made obvious that Mixtapes is a band who is not afraid to admit they may have made the wrong choice in their collective lives.
Although this record is a testament to persevering through wayward decisions and holding on to what makes you “you”, there is still a nagging sense of stale-ness present on multiple tracks. There is only a finite amount of ways to sing about high school, hometowns and, troubled relationships of the past. While Mixtapes approaches these tiresome anecdotes with a certain fresh breath, the stories do at times tend to grow troublesome, as even the refreshing male/female tradeoff between Rockwell and Weaver cannot overshadow the irksome sense of redundancy on a fair amount of these songs.
Wearing their collective influences on their sleeves, Mixtapes have created a record that is capable of restoring faith in the ever stagnant genre that is pop-punk. At times it is almost uncanny in the way songs sound like early Brand New, but with every track enough originality and creativity is applied to make each song solely and uniquely Mixtapes own brand of hyper-catchy and personal pop-punk. Songs such as “Ross (Dirty Water)” and “I Think I Broke It” have some of the catchiest refrains in recent memory, all while paying homage to past powerhouses of the genre. That being said, Ordinary Silence
is a record that does not pretend to be anything it is not, subsequently becoming an album bereft of pretense, making for what might just be the epitome of a “summer record”.