Album Review: Mikey Erg – “Tentative Decisions”

Mikey Erg needs no introduction. While most famous for being the lead singer / drummer of influential pop punk act The Ergs! between 2000 and 2008 [Ed’s note: they’re back together again] the man has played and recorded with the likes of House Boat, For Science, Worriers, The Dopamines, Psyched to Die, The Copyrights, Now People, Dirt Bike Annie, Pale Angels, The Measure[SA], Short Attention, The Slow Death, Star Fucking Hipsters, and Chris Gethard’s house band, The LLC. There was even a long (albeit, unsuccessful) campaign to get him to join Against Me! when they were drummer-less a few years ago. (To be fair, a few of the bands listed here had Erg as a member while The Ergs! were still active).

In addition to playing with all of the aforementioned bands since The Ergs! originally called it quits, he’s put out a handful of splits, singles and EPs and toured around, playing solo sets with nothing but his electric guitar. But no matter how many new songs he played, he had yet to actually release a full length album under his name. Until now, that is. Recorded last winter with Jeff Rosenstock (another staple in the modern punk scene… one who Erg had yet to collaborate with before this album) on production and bass duties and Lou Hanman (of Caves, but also in Worriers with Erg) on drums, Tentative Decisions is Mikey Erg’s debut solo LP, and an album that was certainly worth the long wait.

It would be easy to say that it’s kind of like a new album by the near-sighted trio, but Tentative Decisions is more than just an extension of Erg’s former band. You can get your pop fix through “(This Is Not) The First Time” or “Faulty Metaphor,” and “An Abundance of Julies” recalls The Ergs!’s cover of “Hey Jealousy,” but Erg also explores heavier tones during “Scenic Turnout” and “Apart Time,” and goes all out college rock fuzz during album closer “Nyquil & Sudafed.” It’s a great mix of sounds without ever straying too far from the path, giving the album a cohesiveness that warrants full listens each time, multiple times.

Anyone who has caught Erg’s solo act in the last few years has likely heard some of these songs at one point or another (lead single “Comme Si About Me” has worked its way into pretty much every set I’ve seen in the past year or so). At first it’s a bit of a disappointment that longtime solo songs like “Song Against Ian Raymond” and Key of C, Fix It, Fix It, Stop” didn’t make the cut- but those songs have already gotten the studio treatment. This is a batch of songs written as a result of a pact Erg made with Katie Ellen’s Anika Pyle to continue writing new music even though both weren’t sure if it’s something they wanted to do. And the decision to include only these new songs was a smart one, as they reflect the type of person Erg is currently rather than the person he was even five years ago, and the final result is a collection of 11 songs that could very well be his best album to date.

They say that good things come to those who wait. And in the case of Tentative Decisions, that couldn’t be more true.

4.5 / 5

RIYL: Paul Westerberg, Elvis Costello, The Ergs!

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