Alert Today Alive Tomorrow (Honest Don's)
By: Alex Steininger
Now with an independent (Honest Don's) and off of Reprise, The Muffs prove they're still alive and kicking with their fourth full-length to date. Still packed with all the angst, guitars, and potent lyrics you'd expect from The Muffs, if the third time is a charm, the fourth is still pretty charming.
"I Wish That I Could Be You" opens the album with a flare. The band gets right down to the basics and throws the punk rock immediately your way. Within a few seconds, Kim's trademark growl is in full force. As she spits out the words, "I want everything and I'd like to see my whole life before my eyes ... I wish that I could be you," you can't help but feel the sarcasm as she spits out poison to cure the wounds she's endured in her life.
"Silly People" begins with some catchy guitar that gets you dancing before Kim comes on the mic and declares, "You're damned if you do and you're damned if you never, damned if you feel alright." The music is energetic, potent, and brutally honest, but it is the lyrics, which possess the same qualities, that really hit you hard and make you take notice of the music. Sure, the bass and drums kick out plenty of rhythm and give the song a gritty, punk charge. And the guitar roars through the song with pure adrenaline. But Kim's voice and the words she growls are everything to the song; they burn a whole in your heart as you sit there and feel every word she sings.
Then there is "Prettier Than Me," which tones things down a bit with a soft, melodic piece aching with pain and self-empowerment. When Kim proclaims, "But I will forget and I'll never be prettier for you, I'm only ever prettier for me," it feels as if all the angst and aggression the band has bottled up escapes as they take charge and forget about everything except living their lives the way they want to. Coupled with the laid back feel of the song, the light rhythm section, and gentle picking and strumming of the guitar, the self satisfying lyrics are brought to life.
But, when you listen to a Muffs album you expect full on, in-your-face music. And there is plenty of that as well. "Your Kiss" brings back the growls and loud guitars, while also mixing in the softer, gentler side of the band before slamming you once again with more punk.
"Blow Your Mind" mixes Kim's growls with some screams, as the band plays on, firing off the punk mayhem with power, volume, and depth. The guitar is all amped up and noisy, the rhythm section on top of their game, and a melodic nature is still tucked in there underneath the fiery punk. Yes, it is on songs like these that the Muffs sound indestructible.
Even though I think Kim's voice and lyrics are a big part of what The Muffs are, "Jack Champagne," an instrumental rock number, which I normally can't stand, seems fitting as a closer for this album. If this were to pop up half way through the album, I would probably hate it, but at the ending it is tolerable. And, since it is well done and sounds good, it's easier to like.
The Muffs are one of the best female fronted punk bands out there. Make that, one of the best punk bands out there. Kim's growl and angst-driven lyrics are easily relate-able and carry a message, while the band and all their power has no problem driving home the message and making it stick with you. I'll give the album an A.