Review: MxPx – MxPx

Self-titling an album is always a bold move, but to do it a quarter century into a career is something special. At this point, MxPx are one of the legends of the skate punk/pop punk scene, which makes it fitting that their newest album, MxPx is a reflection of their accomplishments and favorite memories. It genuinely sounds like the band are continuously having a blast. If anything, it confirms the brilliance of loud, fast simplicity in music and is a reminder of why people fell in love with punk to begin with.

You can buy or stream MxPx on Apple Music.

MxPx is an album that finds joy in reflection. It’s pure energy that at once shows the craft of a band so far into their career, as well as the manic noise that draws so many people to punk rock. While it sounds like it could have fallen out of 1998, MxPx is an record that relishes not being more than it is and doubles down on itself in an era when bands (and audiences) seem obsessed with finding something new.

Its greatest strength is that it is simple in construct. The music sounds similar to the skate punk of 20 years ago, though more refined. The lyrics wholeheartedly become party ready sing-a-longs, but there are glimpses of a career well earned and fondly remembered. It’s a touch that makes the record feel like a celebration of the band itself as much as it is meant to excite a crowd into a frenzy.

Album opener, “Rolling Strong” sets the tone for the album as singer Mike Herrera proudly boasts, “There’s no giving up, no going home / We’ll be here till the end / We’re pressing on / Probably should have asked a friend, but that not how we’re living / We’re still rolling strong”. It’s a song that really sounds like the band still love what they do, especially during a breakdown filled with enthusiastic shouts and crazed guitars.

MxPx finds ways to mix memories with the youthful optimism of pop punk in ways that sound neither self-indulgent nor ham-fisted. “The Way We Do” has a generic sounding chorus about following your dreams (“This is the way we do / Like the way we always wanted to”), but dispersed between these are stories about past tours and great nights on the road. “Let me live on through the songs and stories / Like that time Face to Face destroyed our van / Our freezing balls, crossed Canada with Simple Plan / Or stealing food from Bad Religion’s dressing room”.

Closing song, “Moments Like This” sends off a message of hope about making the most out of life and enjoying freedom while you have it. “It’s moments like this, that I’m gonna miss / When I’m dead and gone and I can’t kiss my kids / Will they look up at the sky and think about me? / These are the ways I’ve been spending my days, thinking weird thoughts and the things that amaze / Beyond my life and the way I’ve been able to live it so free.”

Though I listen to a lot of punk rock, I find music similar to skate punk hard to comment on. Predicated on fast guitars, steady drums and thundering bass lines, it can start to run together extraordinarily easily. However, simplicity is the biggest strength of MxPx. Many bands who started in the genre around the same time as MxPx, such as blink-182 and AFI, have drastically changed their sound over the years. Without more familiarity with MxPx, I can’t say for sure how their self-titled album compares to their earlier work, but it is crafted with the strength of a band who isn’t trying to build their reputation as much as they’re putting it on display.

MxPx is an album that should make fans of the band proud, and one of the few self-titled albums that seem to truly represent the band as a whole. While it provides one of the most fleshed-out versions of lightning quick punk rock, it makes the genre feel relevant and energized. MxPx could have been released anywhere in the last two decades, but it wouldn’t have quite the same depth of nostalgia or inspiration. Perhaps more important than anything though, MxPx is just incredibly fun to listen to.

4/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and he just heard the cabinet in his bathroom open and close on its own. He is typing this to avoid having to go see why it did that. The cat sitting on his lap seems alarmed as well. Booooo.

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Most Anticipated of 2016: #1 The Rebirth of Blink-182

blink_182_matt_skiba_2015

The Rock Show

This has been the talk of the pop punk world for over a year at this point. We’ve heard rumors of a new Blink-182 record almost every year for half a decade, with only one LP and an EP to show for it. But this is a new Blink-182, and they’re just as anxious as we are.

It actually feels like it’s happening this time. Ever since the departure of Tom DeLonge last year and the addition of Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba as guitarist, the band has been active and vocal, with updates every couple of months in regards to songwriting for the new album. It’s been way too long since we’ve heard anything from Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker, and from the interviews over the last year, they sound more energized and enthusiastic about what comes next for Blink than they have for years.

It really is impossible to know what to expect from this new form of Blink-182. Will it be the polished, mature and artsy pop punk of the last few albums? Will it be a return of the ungodly catchy skate punk and dick jokes that launched the pop punk age of the early 2000s? Or will it be something else entirely, since we’re dealing with a new Blink-182?

The only thing standing in the way is expectation. New Blink-182 music has been perched high among the most anticipated lists every year since 2009, with very little to show for it. Blink-182 is beloved. Fans have had their hopes raised before only to be disappointed. But this time, we know it’s on the way. This is arguably the most anticipated pop punk event of the decade, and there are many, many ways that it won’t live up to the expectations thrust upon it (Neighborhoods, anyone?).

But we haven’t seen Blink-182 this excited to be making music since Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker are excited. Matt Skiba is excited. And each musician has very, very rarely put out anything disappointing, regardless of project.

Whatever the outcome, this does feel like the year of Blink-182’s rebirth. With a new album, a tour is undoubtedly to follow, hopefully carrying the same energy required to put the album together. With the tumultuous path Blink-182 has tread over the last decade, seeing the trio with a newfound spirit is sure to the biggest event in punk rock this year.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and was introduced to pop punk by Blink-182. No matter what, new Blink-182 is a much needed prospect.