Despite hailing from Bean Town, The Radicals could easily be confused for Bay Area natives. Just give a single listen to their newest EP, Suburban Daydream, and you’ll understand perfectly. The band plays a tightly-wound brand of melodic punk rock that makes them sound like they could be a long-lost cousin to any of the bands on the late 80’s Lookout roster. Particularly Operation Ivy… if Operation Ivy dropped the ska elements and let Matt Freeman (circa Let’s Go) handle the lead vocals. If that doesn’t sell it for you, perhaps you’re in the wrong subgenre.
Suburban Daydream sounds great, and reminds the listener of an era long gone throughout its six tracks. Unfortunately, this blessing is also a curse: With all influence of the sounds from the late 80’s and early 90’s that The Radicals utilize on this EP, they don’t leave a whole lot of room for originality. Sure, nostalgia is fun, but what Suburban Daydream could really benefit from would be a nice dose of The Radicals’ own signature touch. Far too often the songs conjure up the image of a “Matt Freeman-fronted Operation Ivy” and there’s never a moment to think about The Radicals as their own band. This is in direct contrast to the band’s previous releases: 2010’s Three Accidents and 2011’s Halloween Rhymes and Children’s Crimes. Both of those releases still have the melodic punk feel, and the Freeman-esque growl for that matter, but they also both contain more variety in song composition, making for a more interesting listen.
Don’t get me wrong- Suburban Daydream is most definitely a fun and consistent release, and fans of bands like Operation Ivy, Isocracy, or Green Day will get a kick out of this. This EP shows that The Radicals are tightening up their fast, melodic punk rock songwriting skills, and it acts nicely as a companion piece to the musical varied (albeit slightly campy) Halloween Rhymes and Children’s Crimes. If The Radicals find a way to combine elements from both EPs while working on their next full length album, they may find themselves striking gold.