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June 20, 2024

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Spring Heeled Jack U.S.A.
Songs From Suburbia (Songs From Suburbia)

By: Alex Steininger

Hailing from Connecticut, Spring Heeled Jack U.S.A. is a seven-piece band. Mixing in bits of pop, punk, and ska, they form what some might call a ska-punk band, while others might label them as pop-ska. Formerly on Moon Ska Records, for their second album they decided to try and reach a wider audience, so they inked a deal with Ignition Records.

Starting off with a slow number, "Mass Appeal Madness" kicks off the disc. The upbeat is strong enough to give you a little to dance with, although the song is a bit too slow to get a real dance going. At first look the song may seem like a slow ska number, but after tracking the hooks and keeping in touch with the pop essence of the number, you quickly began to realize the song is a pop number. The hooks are both catchy and well integrated, getting you to sing along with ease. The burst of horns help re-integrate the ska the guitar tries to project, while also helping re-enforce the pop in the song. Playing two key roles in the song, they do a tremendous job. Jumping into a very up-tempo, pop-punk number by the name of "Jolene," your body will quickly bounce around with the music and get the motor running inside you. A hot saxophone helps light the song up, giving it a classy jazz-rock feel, which translates to even more energy to feed off of. Making no mistake what the song is, the title helps proclaim right from the get go what it is, a "Pop Song (Green)." Delivering on the promise, a catchy pop-ska number comes across and within one minute gets you singing along. Using colors as a metaphor for the whole song, the song can be interpreted many ways. You can get a serious message from the song, you can get a love song message from the song, or you can get a happy-go-lucky comical number. At first it will come off as a comical number, with their rhyming of colors and such, but once you really listen and think about the song, it may just mean more to you. Isn't that what any good song should detail? Serving up a number that fuses pop and traditional ska, "Tied Up" is all dance. Slow and steady, but you can easily dance with this tune. The percussion is light and very Jamaican oriented, while the horns draw from jazz influences, just as the originators of the ska horn section did. The guitar is very calm, almost reggae-ish. Then there is the bass, which helps generate the tight rhythm section through a partnership with the drums. All together, the number sounds like a dub gone pop song, which works as this number will slowly seep into your body and relax you while making you crave more. Another number that fuses reggae, traditional ska, and pop is "Makisupa Policeman." The vocals lead the song, while the guitar is in close second. A slow number, it still will get your body swaying with passion in no time. Lots of grooves, the song is hard to resist. Ending with a fast ska number, "Man Of Tomorrow" closes everything off with some ska music you can sweat too. Adding touches of rock, reggae, and even some metal, this number will get you dancing, slamming, and jumping around. A nice way to close out this disc.

A lot of pop, this disc is highly infectious. The ska is average, but they make up for it with their catchy pop hooks. The addition of traditional roots, a jazz touch, and some nice chunks of reggae thrown in make this a diverse album, especially in the pop-ska spectrum. I'll give this disc a B.

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