It’s been six years since Canadian pop-punkers Chixdiggit have released new material – their last album was 2005’s Pink Razors (they also re-released their debut album in 2007). Safeways Here We Come is a seven-song EP, long-awaited, from a band that’s been around for more than two decades. So what sort of release do you get when a veteran band waits half a decade to put out new songs?
In this case, it’s just OK.
I was pretty excited for this release, and jumped on the opportunity to review it. Chixdiggit, while not one of my favorite bands, is a group I’ve been aware of for a long time, and I’ve always liked what I heard from them. When I first listened to Safeways, however, I had no strong feelings. I didn’t immediately love or hate it. My reaction was simply, “meh.”
The EP starts off fairly strong. The opening, “Miso Ramen,” is poppy and fun, full of hooks and catchy lyrics. “Swedish Rat,” the second track, is another decent number, this time about a weird haircut.
I found the third track, “Since You Got a Dog,” irritating, mainly because of the subject matter. It’s my least favorite song on the album. Knowing the band, it’s probably supposed to be a joke, but it’s a topic I freely admit to having no sense of humor about. Any song with a line about wishing someone would send their dog back to the pound will completely lose me. The record may have gotten an extra star without it.
The next two tracks, “Found Love” and “Hot n Horney” are pretty typical of Chixdiggit – melodic pop punk songs about girls. Both are solid, and along with “Miso Ramen” (also about girls) show that doing what you know you’re good at is a pretty reliable way to make a decent record.
“I Hate Basketball” is not about girls, but it still kind of great, at least for someone who also hates basketball and would rather watch hockey. It’s melodic and catchy, the lyrics are witty, and the only problem I can find is that the opening riff made me think of “Here Comes the Bride” the first time I heard it, so now I can’t get that comparison out of my mind.
The album closes with “I Hope Things Will Turn Around,” which is easily the best on the EP. Like all of their stuff, this song has strong hooks, good guitar riffs and smooth vocals. It’s the least humorous of the seven tracks, and the most mature-sounding. It’s like the band grew up over the course of a few short songs, and the closer almost redeems the disaster that is “Since You Got a Dog.” After a bunch of tracks about girls, sports and dog-hating, it seems downright deep and introspective – a refreshing foray into adulthood.
Overall, Safeways Here We Come is pretty predictably safe for the band. It’s a solid EP, not a bad effort, but it isn’t dazzling. After waiting six years for Chixdiggit to release new material, this is slightly underwhelming. It’s tight but not fresh; a respectable example of what we already know they are good at, but not anything innovative. It’s a solid three out of five stars: right in the middle, not exceptionally great and not exceptionally bad.