Okay, we all know the deal here. Night Birds are a modern punk rock band from New Jersey, but they play punk rock like they’re from Southern California in the early 1980’s. They’re great, and no one should ever tell you otherwise. Mutiny at Muscle Beach is their third full length record, and it’s fantastic.
I could waste your time telling you how much Mutiny at Muscle Beach sounds like the logical follow up to both The Other Side of Darkness and Born to Die in Suburbia, but I won’t. Instead, I live tweeted my initial reactions I had during my first listen of the album, edited them into semi-coherent thoughts, and turned those into a track-by-track review. I’ve added in new thoughts I’ve had since that first listen for further clarity. Here we go.
Either the vocals are mixed weird, or my headphones are messed up. Vocals aside, holy shit this song rips. If this is how the album begins, I’m stoked for the rest.
“Life Is Not Amusement to Me”
Track 2 already? Maybe I’m just dumb but the title seems a little grammatically awkward. The chorus is super catchy though. Whoa, was that an organ? This rules. [Author’s Note: It’s been brought to my attention that I overlooked the fact that the title is in reference to a scene from Social Distortion and Youth Brigade’s tour-doc Another State of Mind. Oops, that one is on me.]
Okay, I’ve heard this one before. Solid jam. Admittedly a little less exciting than the first two songs… I wonder if that’s because I’ve already heard it. [Yes, that’s exactly it]. Oh hey it turns out that my headphones weren’t fully plugged in. Everything sounds fine now.
“Lapsed Catholics Need Discipline”
[Wonderful], it sounds like it’d fit right in on Born to Die in Suburbia. Which is to say, “classic Night Birds.”
“In the Red / In the Black”
Almost halfway through the album and still no slower songs [like “Nazi Gold” or “The Less The Merrier”]. This excites me. This chorus, Goddamn. Hold up, was that a clip from the TV edit of The Big Lebowski? This is everything.
“Golden Age of TV”
I can’t get over that “meet a stranger in the alps” line from the end of the last song, I’m not even paying attention to this one. I’m probably missing so many Seinfeld references right now. [Not many Seinfeld references that I caught in this one, but at the end of the song there is a clip from Heil Honey, I’m Home!, an obscure 1990’s British sitcom that lasted all of one episode]
“Mutiny at Muscle Beach”
Another one I’ve heard before. The intro still throws me off. It reminds me of all the [1980s] punk bands that went metal three albums in. The rest of the track is straight up early Adolescents though, and the video for this song is great, too [you know, if you like slasher films].
“Son of Dad”
The transition to this song is just as smooth as “Born to Die in Suburbia” and “Modern Morons.” Excellent work. Oh wait… “Son of Dad” is totally from Seinfeld, isn’t it? Yeah, it totally is.
“Off the Grid”
Classic Ramones count off. And these backing vocals in the chorus remind me of early 90’s Screeching Weasel. So… basically, Night Birds wrote a Ramones-core song, but you know, it still sounds like Night Birds. [CJ Ramone contributed guest vocals to this album! How did I forget that?!]
Kind of a mainstream reference there, innit? This song is much poppier than expected. The “la la la” bit in the chorus is kind of funny. Poppy or not, this song is great. There’s some wonderful imagery going on here. [After a few more listens, I now understand that this is a Dr. Strangelove reference.]
Oh phew. I was worried there for a second that there wasn’t going to be an instrumental on this album. I never thought I’d enjoy instrumental songs all that much, but I’m always 100% into it when it’s done by Night Birds.
“Left in the Middle”
I know this one! This is on Fat Music Vol. 8. It’s true what they say: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That rule definitely applies to this song. What a great way to end an album. “Oblivious” and “Golden Opportunity” are both great, but this one blows them out of the water.
So there you have it. Mutiny at Muscle Beach is a triumph of an album. Night Birds rule, and if you disagree, you’re wrong.
5 / 5
RIYL: Adolescents, OFF!, Agent Orange
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