I must confess that whenever I see the generic label “pop-punk” being attached to a band I immediately think of a slick and formulaic frat-boy punk-by-numbers, all locker room innuendo and tried and tested chord progressions. Ironic considering what punk set out to do…to clear the air, to cut through the clutter, to offer a raw, DIY alternative path. So how did one fork of this promising journey deliver our to the Sum Day 182 arrivals lounge of million selling corporate conformity? A record executive’s dream…a free thinkers nightmare. It’s such a missed opportunity but against such formulaic mainstream white noise The Radio Buzzkills (great name by the way) stand proud.
They stand proud because they remember what punk was all about in the first place. If the first wave of British punk was essentially fast and melodic pop-songs and the US take was more to do with swaggering trashy, low slung rock…it was The Ramones which seemed to occupy the common ground in that particular Venn Diagram and, had they been old enough, The Radio Buzzkills would have been rubbing shoulders with them in that statistical sub-group.
Get Lost is unmistakably a stateside sound and it is cleverer than most, mixing those same Doo-wop harmonies with a raw take on short, sharp and shockingly smart garage rock. But this is more than a pastiche or plundering of Da Brudders’ core sonic values rather a distant descendant or illegitimate child who bears more than a passing resemblance. But Get Lost is even more than that too, a reminder perhaps of the path not taken, the left hand turn at the junction where integrity and conformity branch off in opposite directions. Sometimes you just have to take a red turn on a red light.
It definitely still falls squarely into a punk oeuvre but sometimes it is as much about the journey as the destination and here the direction of travel seems to have taken the band through some, rock, garage and even soul detours on its way to splicing the pop and punk that its generic label suggests. And it is just such genre-hopping, cross-contamination and musical gene splicing which allows evolution to happen and that is the process by which music moves on. Evolution not revolution! Who knew? It may nod to a whole number of past musical glories but it is also focussed on creating a few present ones too.
As a result the riffs are crisp and melodic, the vocals accessible and deftly woven rather than merely aggressive, the intricacies within the song are relevant rather than the pointless showboating or heavy for the sake of it approach that the genre is prone to. It may not be kicking down barricades and marching into unknown musical territories but then again what’s wrong with just being damned good at your job? Nothing, that’s what! And if this be the case then The Radio Buzzkills are definitely a shoo-in for employee of the month.