August 3, 2006

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The Living End, State of Emergency
Adeline, 2006

Aussie pop/punk outfit The Living End mixes equal parts AC/DC and the Clash in a manner not entirely distinguishable from the likes of Offspring, or Rise Against. Punk-by-numbers songs like “Till the End,” “No Way Out,” and “One Step Behind” pogo along with some genuinely catchy hooks. The asinine “Long Live the Weekend,” meanwhile, is an anthem for the over-worked, under-paid working class that recalls the Bay City Rollers “Saturday Night.”

“We Want More” contains call-and-respond vocals in the chorus, “Nothing Lasts Forever” utilizes flanger effects for a stab at U2-style pretentiousness and “Wake Up” is the requisite anti-war/anti-neo-con protest song. Though I genuinely appreciate singer-guitarist Chris Cheney’s (no relation to the Shooter-in-Chief that I know of) attempts at timely relevancy, the song’s vague, generalized lyrics and uninspired power chords fail to leave a lasting impression. And while I’m on the subject, can we please call a moratorium on school children choirs in political songs?

State of Emergency’s most ironic moment, however, belongs to “What’s On Your Radio?” which apes the slashing, high-end guitars of the Clash’s “This is Radio Clash.” The song chastises the mundane mainstream monotony of popular music, with Cheney asking in lyrics that could have been lifted from London Calling, “Where do you want to go?/What do you want to know?/What’s on your radio?” Yet the song’s failure to register as anything more than a boring, generic pop song itself makes Cheney’s charges ring hollow. This is also keeping in mind that just a few songs prior we heard Cheney literally singing the praises of weekend drunken buffoonery. Which is it, guys? You can’t be callous and insipid one minute and righteous and enlightened the next.

Then again, I’m probably over-analyzing State of Emergency. Maybe if I just turn my brain off and revel in The Living End’s monochromatic tunes, I’ll feel as ecstatic listening to this high-fructose concoction of a record as their adolescent Warped Tour fan-boys. C-

— Adam Marletta


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