Philadelphia folk punks Mischief Brew have always had a certain undeniable swagger to their music. Whether leader Erik Petersen is playing with just an acoustic guitar or with a full band, the rough and ready, yet catchy blue collar anthems consistently provide the soundtrack to a good time. With their newest release, This Is Not For Children, the band builds on what they’ve always done so well while also changing things up just enough to keep things fresh and interesting.
All of the typical Mischief Brew flare is here in spades, and as always, it’s done well. Songs like “Two Nickels” and “Squatter Envy” pull you in quick with the type of sing-a-long folk punk songs they have become known for, and you will be calling out for the tossing of bankers and landlords in no time. “O, Pennsyltucky!” is a slower acoustic, then electric, anthem that reminds me of some of their earliest acoustic work, and “Danger: Falling Pianos,” brings out the gypsy and swing band feel they’ve played around with before.
But the band doesn’t just stick to what they know. “Lancaster Avenue Blues” retains their gypsy folk feel while adding a sea shanty style violin that is one of the highlights of the whole album, especially in how it mixes with the flanging guitar. “Bad Heart” kind of has a garage rock style to it, and is probably the biggest departure in their typical sound. Even on tracks that feel like classic Mischief Brew songs, they still manage to inject something new, like the fuzzed out guitars in “No Candlesticks.”
There’s really not anything bad going on in this release, though long-time fans might feel like they’ve already heard the best the band has to offer and may not find this album as exciting. But that shouldn’t deter anyone from picking up a copy, as it’s still a great and catchy album, with plenty to sing along too. If you are new to the band, this album serves as a good introduction since it’s a great overall representation of the sound they are known for, and of where they may be headed in the future.
4.5 / 5 Stars