Lookout Records may have officially closed up shop just over two years ago, but the influence and legacy of the “Lookout sound” is still very much alive. Look no further than Maryland pop punk act Braceface for evidence of this. The trio’s self-titled debut album acts as a time machine, taking listeners right back to the year 1994. Braceface is filled to the brim with bubblegum pop melodies about girls, smoothly blended in with distorted guitars and snotty singing that bands such as The Queers and The Mr. T Experience popularized (for the lack of a better term) twenty years ago.
Much like the bands that they take influence from, Braceface employs a sense of humor into many of their songs, creating a sense of humorous self-loathing. From songs about falling for a straight-edge vegan (opening track, “Bananahs”), to the declaration of not shaving for a girl (the short, yet blunt “Keera, I’m Not Gonna Shave My Face”), to going to ska shows with an older lady (“AWOL Girl”), the songwriting fits the genre incredibly well. The album hits its peak during the final two songs- the instrumental “Everything Falls Apart” (which hints at a Descendents/Screeching Weasel influence) shows that the band can write a catchy hook even without complaining about girls. Meanwhile “Stupid Songs” takes a break from the subject of girls, instead taking a meta lyrical approach of how the band came to write songs about girls in the first place.
The biggest fault with Braceface is that the album stays a little too close to home, and never really ventures out to give the band their own signature, defining trait. I realize that sounding like the Ramones as played by Ben Weasel and Joe King is a staple of this particular brand of pop punk, but this album is lacking that little extra “oomph” that keeps it from reaching My Brain Hurts or Love Songs for the Retarded status. If they stick to the course that they set for themselves on this full length (particularly along the lines of “Everything Falls Apart” and “Stupid Songs”), Braceface could be on their way to leading the next wave of pop punk acts.
3.5 / 5
Stream Braceface below.
RIYL: The Queers, Screeching Weasel, The Steinways