Decent mainstream punk bands are in short supply these days, but that could all change if the Explosion and their new album Black Tape catch on like I know they can. With enough pop sensibility to earn radio play but with enough punk coolness to retain their cred, the Explosion may be just what Dr. Punk Rock ordered.
Their first single Here I Am is a great intro to the band. It's fast and fun with an infectious chorus: "Here I am/ Here I am/ Here I am/ On top of the mountain again." Loads more catchy material fills this album. I Know has a uniquely bouncy yet confident delivery. The one getting stuck in my head the most is Heavyweight, a more mid-tempo number with a terrific chorus: "And I'm starting to see what's in it for me/ But I can't do nothin' cuz I feel so weak."
But despite being catchy as hell, don't expect any shortage of straight-up punk. These songs are all fairly short, fast, and a little gritty while still remaining friendly on the ears. Filthy Insane is a great bit of angry punk with its chants of "this is filthy/ this is fuckin' insane." No Revolution may be the sloppiest track on the album, but even still, it remains an easy-to-sing-along-with anthem. Some tracks are a little repetitive, especially Go Blank, but fortunately the Explosion know just where and how to place their repetition so that it works in making the song upbeat rather than monotonous.
Their lyrics certainly set them apart from a lot of what we hear on the radio today as well. Atrocity is a firm conscientious objection: "I won't fight in any wars/ And I can't stand to see much more atrocity." Some lines of Mothers Cry actually remind me of the Dropkick Murphys in terms of the camaraderie theme: "And it's all right/ Cuz good friends never die." I'm also impressed by the lyrics in We All Fall Down in which they sing of "little kid dreams with grown-up screams."
Black Tape starts off strong with Deliver Us and does not stray, featuring surprisingly strong tracks at the end. Even the last two tracks, Grace and Hollywood Sign, are good enough to potentially join Here I Am as singles. There really isn't a weak point on the entire album.
I would easily recommend Black Tape to just about any fan of punk rock, especially fans of Rancid and the like. If you enjoy punk bands that know how to make fun music without being overly poppy or whiny, The Explosion is a good buy. If we're lucky, mainstream punk could take a turn for the better, and we just may have The Explosion to thank.
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