Thursday, June 22, 2006

Record Review: Methadones - 21st Century Power Pop Riot

‘21st Power Pop Riot’ was always going to be a gamble for the Methadones. For all intents and purposes, it is a concept album. A record consisting entirely of power pop covers. Its success depends on whether they can do justice to the songs and not offend fans of their influences in the process. Conversely, it also depends on whether they can lend a new hue to the songs and not discourage the casual listener. But ‘21st Century Power Pop Riot’ is a success in both these senses. It is a resounding triumph of everything that is right about pop music, a record pregnant with hooks and diverse enough to warrant repeat listens.

Power pop is today one of the most neglected genres. In the late 1970s and early 80s, a fertile mod scene emerged. Bands like the Raspberries and Cheap Trick mined British Invasion pop for inspiration. Meanwhile bands like the Pointed Sticks, Paul Collins’ Beat, the Plimsouls combined this with the primitiveness of punk rock. The common thread was always the emphasis on harmony and a three-minute song format. But all most of these bands seem to have been relegated to the dust bin of musical history.

It’s not surprising that it’s taken Dan Schaefer (or Danny Vapid as I and every other Screeching Weasel fanatic prefer to refer to him as) to try and inject new interest into the genre. The man knows his way around a harmony. And that’s the biggest understatement I’ve ever committed to words. Through his work with Screeching Weasel, Sludgeworth, the Riverdales, Mopes and the Methadones he’s proven himself to be one of the most prolific pop-punk song writers of all time. Consider ‘Riverdale Stomp’, ‘High School Psychopath’, ‘Teenage Freakshow’. His pedigree speaks volumes.

But the Methadones were always an anomaly in his output. The emphasis wasn’t always on Ramones chord progressions and simple hooks. They were more driving and had a pointed social conscience. The three previous Methadones albums were a departure from the snide-pop ethos that pervaded his other work.

‘21st Century Power Pop Riot’ is in a sense a return to his roots for Vapid. Vapid and The Methadones go about Ramones-ifying a slew of timeless power pop classics. They take Brownsville Station’s ‘I’m The Leader of The Gang’, Paul Collins’ Beat’s ‘Walking Out On Love’, the Jags’ ‘Back Of My Hand’, Scandal’s ‘Goodbye To You’, Cheap Trick’s ‘He’s A Whore’, grasp them by the man-berries, distil them into their most primitive form and breathe new life into them.

The guitars blaze in a wall of sound. Vapid’s voice bellows with his trademark intonation. Their cover of the Pointed Stick’s ‘Out of Luck’ is the zenith of pop punk. I always thought the Pointed Sticks were a punk rock band masquerading as a power pop band. The Methadones version is how I imagine they originally conceived it, or at least played it live.

And this is exactly why ‘21st Century Power Pop Riot’ is an unqualified success. Every song is a buzzsaw pop gem. Vapid and the Methadones inject each song with enough personality that you can’t dismiss it as a mere novelty record.

Five Thumbs Up

2 Comments:

Anonymous Jonny Crack Up said...

I love this cd. I am making love to this cd right now.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

I hope you lubed up Johnny

1:52 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home