Album Review: Fake Problems / You Blew It! – “Florida Doesn’t Suck” Split

Given the number of punk bands to come out of Florida in the last 20 years alone, it’s hard to think of why anyone in the punk scene would think that Florida sucks. But in case anyone still has their reservations about the Sunshine State, Naples-natives Fake Problems have teamed up with Orlando-citizens You Blew It! to bring you four more reasons why Florida doesn’t suck in the form of a 4-song split EP, aptly titled Florida Doesn’t Suck.

Fake Problems starts off the split with two brand new songs, continuing their ever-evolving exploration of stripped down indie pop. “Small Devil Song” is an upbeat, yet lo-fi tune, with the band sounding kind of like Vampire Weekend while vocalist Chris Farren declares not to look him in the eye unless you’re ready for a fight. “Gone Before Dawn” is another speedy one, although lyrically it’s not nearly as confident as its companion. Rather than statements of being “more powerful than you”, “Gone Before Dawn” makes use of its “I was too afraid to stay” sentiment placed well with a guitar track that almost makes it sound like Casey Lee never left the band. It’s a very promising sign for anyone anxiously waiting for a follow up to 2010’s Real Ghosts Caught on Tape.

You Blew It! follows Fake Problems’ half with ease. “Batvia, NY”, the first track on Side B, follows the tone set by “Gone Before Dawn”, creating a moody atmosphere with near-twinkly guitar work and lyrics like “I can’t pretend everyone here is actually my friend”. Sure it’s a downer, but the band shines brightly all the way through it. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the other offering from You Blew It!. “I’m a Kid, That’s My Job” might show off the band’s more energetic side, but it never really goes anywhere, and the song is over before anything truly interesting happens. Maybe it would’ve worked better if the sequencing had been changed and something followed up its twinkly ending, but as it stands it’s not the best way to close the split with, and not even the Uncle Buck reference can save it.

Florida Doesn’t Suck may have its inconsistencies in sequencing, but thanks to both halves being produced by Fake Problems bassist Derek Perry all the songs sound similar enough that there’s no jarring transition between the two bands. The laid-back tunes conjure up lots of imagery of lounging around in the sun, and fans of either band will be pleased with the new material. The split is a little on the short side, and probably could have benefited from another song from each band (particularly You Blew It!)… But aren’t split EPs supposed to work that way?

Fake Problem: 4/5
You Blew It!: 3/5
Final Score: 3.5/5

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