Being a long time, jaded punk rocker, I tend to dismiss catchy pop punk out of hand. “Two Years”, the third studio release from Thousand Oaks, Ca’s The Braces, was no different upon my first few listens. It was after a few days when I found myself singing some of the songs to myself and actually wanting to listen to it more that I came to appreciate this album.
Drawing from a large bag of tricks, the Braces vary greatly from the “Defend pop punk” bands that play the most indefensible garbage ever and seemingly all have the same singer. I don’t consider that a problem. Vocally I would consider the Braces closest to 90s bands like Jerk Magnet, Weston, and oddly SNFU. But not overly close to any of them. It’s at once familiar and unique, which is cool and hard to pull off.
Musically, there’s a good amount of variety. Fast beats transition seemlessly into mid tempo interludes. Layered guitars and vocals seem comfortable and not at all out of place or an afterthought, while not coming off as terribly over produced or sterile. This is a great credit to both the production and the vision of the band.
The songs seem to flow while being unique. “DIY” segues perfectly into “Siren” while being a very different song. Lyrically, they regularly drop well thought out, intelligent lines like “I’m a scratched cd, repeating mistakes on a regular basis”, “You’re not a face in the crowd, you’re the crowd that I have to face/If I’m not mistaken by now I think I make too many mistakes”
I haven’t heard a new album from a band that I feel really gets pop punk as much as this in a long time. This has found it’s way into my regular rotation lately, and what greater compliment is there for a release than that?