Album Review: Spraynard – “Mable”

Spraynard is the type of band a lot of people are going to call pop-punk. They’re not, but they have the same melodic sensibilities. At its heart its too weird, too adult to be labeled pop-anything. This is the kind of grownup pop punk we all call melodic punk and pretend is a different beast altogether. Spraynard sounds like an overweight and funny friend that wears thigh length shorts. Its post-hipster malaise given a voice through song. Like the guy with an ironic mustache and pop culture knowledge aplenty woke up as a twenty-nine year old with a bald spot and asked, “What the fuck am I doing with my life?” Mable is their latest album after a break, and it sounds like someone waking up as an adult after years of skateboarding and house shows and TV watching, realizing that they’re not a kid anymore and not the adult they want to be.

“Applebee’s Bar” might win my award for Most Evocative Title of the year. Its corporate and sad, rustically dressed and stuffed with blue-collar decor, and so far removed from authenticity. I wonder if the phrase is a self-deprecating shot at their own music. Catchy and melodic, with just enough of a confessional nature to be taken seriously. Does Spraynard think they’re posers at heart? “Applebee’s Bar” is filled with great couplet after great couplet, its opening of “I am every person that you’ve ever ignored, I am the flaming bag of dog shit on your porch” comes across almost as a self-loathing mission statement. Its the kind of lines that makes me hope that Spraynard isn’t just another Applebee’s bar, that it’s not just a sophisticated approximation of sincerity, that beneath the facade there is a real beating heart.

Mable is actually stuffed with a great tracks, and one of the best things about it is that they aren’t afraid to cover the self-deprecating material no one else will. How many punk rock songs have you heard from a male artist that talk about body shame? “Pond” isn’t afraid to go there. The best songs out there are the ones that cut through social standards and make you cringe, the ones that say something so personal that you almost wish it was left unsaid. Almost.

The musical element is never left behind in the mass of open sores, and it’s what make Mable transcend others of its type. Listen to “Bench” and its slow riffs that roll like crashing waves. The music is always in step with the lyrical content. Nothing feels out of place, it all works together to deliver a feeling and at the end, whether pretty or not, its as good as any painting of a sunset or a grove of trees, only louder.


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