Album review

Box Car Racer : Box Car Racer

Box Car Racer : Box Car RacerIf ever a punk band has been unfairly maligned then it's got to be Blink 182. Fans accuse them of selling out and the media decries their supposedly juvenile attitudes. Totally undeserved? Not completely, but all the accusations neatly sidestep the quality of Blink's music. The fact is that 1999's Enema Of The State is one of the best punk albums of the last decade. I'll gloss over last year's disappointing Take Off Your Pants And Jacket cos I'm trying to make a point here . . .
    Which brings us to the present. While Mark Hoppus takes time off to do the dad thing, fellow frontman Tom DeLonge and drummer Travis Barker have decided to get back to the punk; to the music which inspired them in the first place. The result is this debut disc from Box Car Racer.

So Box Car Racer sound nothing like Blink 182 then? Box Car Racer sound exactly like Blink 182. DeLonge's whiny vocals are so distinctive it's impossible not to make the comparison. The important thing to note is that Box Car Racer sound like the Blink 182 of Stay Together For The Kids and Adam's Song - the mature Blink that gets overlooked so easily.
    A sparse piano melody introduces first single I Feel So, which gradually builds to a noisy crescendo before slipping back in volume for a gently strummed verse. The chorus wheels out the distortion pedals again, and for the Blink 182 fan the closest reference is the aforementioned Stay Together For The Kids.
    The quiet-loud-quiet dynamics stay in place for All Systems Go, the excellent Watch The World and Tiny Voices. Then comes what for me is the hidden gem of this CD; Cat Like Thief, with vocals shared between Tom DeLonge, Jordan Pundik and Rancid's Tim Armstrong. Tim's Shane McGowan impression is in fine shape on this dark offering.
    Proving that they can't keep straight faces for a whole disc, the breakneck My First Punk Song has Delonge screaming, "They gave me syphilis now I got no dick." On a Blink album maybe, but on Box Car Racer's debut this doesn't sit well.
    Mark Hoppus makes an appearance with his moonlighting bandmates on Elevator before the self-explanatory Instrumental wraps things up.

Not as good as Enema Of The State. Far superior to Take Off Your Pants And Jacket. It should be obvious by now that if you like Blink 182's darker and more introspective moments, and quality punk in general, you'd be daft to miss out on Box Car Racer.

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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