Written by: PP on 26/12/2010 00:39:46

"So FUCK THE WORLD, now I feel a little better" sings the male singer of Mixtapes on "Nothing Can Kill The Grimace" backed by gang shouts during the expletives, who incidentally sounds almost exactly like Soupy from The Wonder Years, effectively summing up what their new album "Maps" is all about. Raw, rebellious spirit meets optimistic, bright pop punk sound that is practically a very successful exercise in infectious choruses and mouth-watering, hook-laden guitar melodies. Just imagine if you combined The Wonder Years' debut album "Get Stoked On it!" with early Paramore style balladic songs. Is it just me, or does that sound like a pretty fuckin' awesome combination? Where do I sign up?

"Maps" is a short record, only a little over 15 minutes across ten seconds, but it's by no means a breakneck speed one nor a punk rock record as such. It's split just about evenly between honest, acoustic songs that can almost be classified as ballads recalling the early Paramore records, only in an edgier and rougher version, and songs that are basically identical to The Wonder Years. Both types are just very short in duration. Here are a few examples: "The Mixtapes Misplaced Missed Takes", for instance, is a fast paced record that could've been on "Get Stoked On It!", complete with a pop-hardcore breakdown and all that good stuff. "OrangeYellow", on the other hand, is an acoustic guitar-driven, yet explosive song, but where the band excels in quiet, but effective pop punk, and then you have of course "Road Apples", which embodies what I like the best about "Maps" in general. It's a medium-pace track, with dual vocals embedded on top of each other. The female ones are fragile and delicate in this particular song, whereas the male ones are purposefully quiet, sticking to the background to provide some low-end bass sound, allowing just enough space for both. They're slightly off timing, so you can often hear one of the two start/finish the lyric slightly before the other one. Some might consider this a flaw in production, but for the undersigned, it adds charm and character to the band's overall expression. The male/female contrast is brilliant, even though it might come across a little awkward at first. Give it a few spins, and you'll see what I mean.

You also have a couple of songs that combine the two approaches, such as "Moonglow", which basically sounds like The Wonder Years with a female vocalist, before tempo-shifting into a keyboard-heavy poppy part and back during the song. This is how I want my Paramore to sound like, edgy and rough around the edges, without overproduction or artificially inflated choruses. This is old school pop punk, but not afraid to flirt with really poppy structures and ideas, which is exactly why it succeeds in nearly everything it does. It's a fresh, and original record in a beat-up genre where you seldom hear anything qualifying for either or. It's only real shortcoming is that the record is extremely, extremely short, so it rolls by way too fast. It's almost over before you're even properly settled down to their sound. With longer songs - or even with the whole song repeated twice per song to add length - this could be a great album. Right now, it's still a very good example of forward-thinking in pop punk, while also showcasing what happens when you play the genre just right.


Download: Nothing Can Kill The Grimace, The Mixtapes Misplaced Missed Takes, Road Apples
For the fans of: The Wonder Years, With The Punches, old Paramore
Listen: Myspace

Release date February 2010
Death To False Hope Records

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