Mean Jeans, much like cheese, have only gotten better with age. Sure, to the untrained palette it might all sound like the same Ramones-y garage punk song over and over again, but the more experienced listener can easily tell just how far the Portland trio have come since they first hit the scene nearly a decade ago. On the surface the band’s third full length album, Tight New Dimension, might be more of the same, but as the prog rock inspired cover art hints at: it also finds the band in new territory.
At its core, it’s still a Mean Jeans album; the songs are catchy, rarely pass the two minute mark, and they place a high priority on keeping it loose. However, Tight New Dimension doesn’t pick up where the band last left off on 2012’s On Mars so much as it hops over the fence and journeys on the other side of the road. Unlike previous albums the band now has something new in their arsenal: experience. And it shows a lot: the songs might still be the same structurally and carry the same party vibe, but now they’re played by a band who has been at it for a few years and knows exactly what they’re doing.
Lyrically, Mean Jeans have never been a band to really cut deep and Tight New Dimension is no different. However, to go back to the cheese metaphor for a moment, just because you’ve experienced some fine grano padano doesn’t mean you can’t also enjoy a plain American cheese sandwich as well. Mean Jeans may not offer in-depth political insights or offer catharsis for heartbreak, but they still bang out some witticisms (the 1-2 punch of “4 Coors Meal”/”Allergic to Success” is filled with plenty of one-liners) and ask some heavy hitting questions (“Are There Beers in Heaven?”). They even manage to drop some clever lines while paying tribute to the King of Pop. Seriously, who would’ve thought to rhyme “Michael Jackson was tight” with “I was so sad when he died”?
Mean Jeans might claim that they’re allergic to success, but if they’re going to keep on making records like this one, they’re going to want to carry some Claritin or Benadryl with them at all times.
4 / 5 – Listen below.
RIYL: The Jetty Boys, Ramones, The Marked Men