Review: The Frantic - Audio & Murder
Label: Sinister Muse
Released: October 30, 2007
In the late 80s, whatever charm hair metal had a few years before was evaporating quickly. Most bands were more interested in fitting the mold than in breaking it. Yet there were still a few bands that worked the formula well enough that they were fun even if they were almost entirely meaningless. Pop punk has found itself in the same position over the last several years. Bands are a dime a dozen and almost none of them are punk bands in anything other than sound (and even that connection is tenuous at times). Chicago's The Frantic is very much in that class.
Their debut album, Audio & Murder, sets them up to be perhaps the Poison of pop punk with a little more work. Of course, that's the last thing any self-respecting punk wants to hear, but there are worse things (like being the Southgang or Trixter of pop punk). The Frantic don't break down any barriers, but they do play a catchy brand of punk that is maybe one part Ramones, one part Descendants and two parts Bad Religion. They don't ever have the sense of the simple pop song that the Ramones have, the teeth of Bad Religion or the clever fun of the Descendants, but they do have a fair amount of good time energy (they ought to, they're all 18 or under).
Most of the album's 25 minutes are standard fare, but played well and with enthusiasm. They do attempt to at least appear to branch out on "Movin' Along," but it just comes off as cheap 70s country rock. If you want to know the difference between The Frantic and a band that created the formula, compare "Heifer" to the Descendants' "Fat Beaver." Both have inane lyrics, but the Descendants pull it off both musically and lyrically. The Frantic end up sounding like they're just getting out of middle school, not high school.
All in all, this isn't a bad first effort from the Frantic. While their list of influences is probably a mile long, they won't be influencing anyone else anytime soon. Still, if they maintain their energy (and write some lyrics that are at least clever if they can't be intelligent), they could be a top commercial pop punk band. I guess that translates into a guilty pleasure at best.