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The Loved Ones – Build & Burn

Fat Wreck Chords, 2008

Punk records from the past decade can be a gamble in regards to quality, mainly because that quality is often lacking.  However, I had heard a few tracks from the Loved Ones debut record and vaguely recall liking them.  With a gritty looking black and white digipak, as well as inclusion on the generally entertaining Fat Wreck Chords label, I figured this was worth a cheap spin.  I did notice belatedly that the inside cover band picture showed four pretty clean cut guys.  In hindsight, that might have served as a warning.

The Loved Ones second record is what one might expect from a punk label; there is little chance to catch one’s breath throughout.  The opener of “Pretty Good Year” gets right into it with the clashing guitars, pounding drums, and strained vocals.  In a bit of a punk twist, it turns out to be the shortest track in just over two minutes.  Subsequent high speed rockers, like “The Inquirer”, “Sarah’s Game”, and “3rd Shift” take it a bit longer in the usual modern style.

Unlike other pop punk groups, the Loved Ones periodically take time to slow things down once in awhile.  “The Bridge” is such a track given its seemingly personal nature, which can either intrigue a listener or make them wonder where the fist pumping went.  The Loved Ones also go all sensitive on the listener in “Brittle Heart” and “Selfish Masquerade”, the former of which actually sounds quite good in its composition for a toned down rock song.  The cards are shown in regards to the Loved Ones’ preference of versatility when they actually end their punk record with a cover of All-4-One’s “I Swear”.  Okay, I’m kidding, but that’s the name of the song and I think the cover would’ve been a better idea than what their version actually ended up being.

Though it’s easy to quickly go through this record without getting too annoyed, the one track that stands out as a bit much is “Louisiana”.  For one, these guys are from Philadelphia.  Secondly, the lyrics are incredibly repetitive with “They’re pounding nails in Louisiana” with little explanation as to why the Loved Ones care.  Is it some kind of old slavery or criminal anecdote?  Are these guys really into Louisiana construction?  Finally, the song typically builds from quiet to a rousing end … with the repetitive lyrics.  Other songs can be dealt with, but this one got the eyes rolling.

If you need a quick punk fix, check out the Loved Ones’ MySpace page and website (which is just a link to their MySpace page … zzzz) if you gotta.

I can’t imagine a time when punk rock, or pop punk for that matter, will ever dissolve into a genre that is no longer sought after.  I suppose the same could be said for heavy metal and country music, so with the few great bands that lead a genre for a few years there will be a ton of bands that fit the sound but don’t stand out.  The Loved Ones are such a band, for though they bring everything that punk rockers should (energy, volume, speed, etc) they don’t create anything that is unique or incredibly interesting.  That’s okay I suppose, because sometimes all one wants to hear is the same kind of stuff and get on with their day.  I just wish it didn’t have to be the tired pop punk sound we’ve heard in recent years.

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