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April 4, 2012

MxPx celebrates 20 years with a new album

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Written by: John Anderson
MxPx may have matured as a band, but its power chord has not. | Courtesy of Tooth and Nail

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MxPx may have matured as a band, but its power chord has not. | Courtesy of Tooth and Nail

MxPx may have matured as a band, but its power chord has not. | Courtesy of Tooth and Nail

MxPx’s ninth studio album “Plans Within Plans” was released Tuesday as the band approaches its 20th anniversary. The 1990s pop-punk icons have been around the block, but still haven’t learned more than three chords.

Power chords, power chords everywhere. And double bass. And clichés. Pretty par for the course as far as ‘90s punk rock goes. This album sounds like early Blink-182’s instrumentals mated with Social Distortion’s vocals. Alternatively, it sounds a lot like MxPx.

“Aces Up” is good. It opens the album with strong punk tropes that don’t disappoint. Starting strong is important, making listeners more likely to stick around to listen to the entirety of the record. Unfortunately, the rest of the album is uninspiring. “Stay On Your Feet” is again reminiscent of Social Distortion. One departure from the predicted script is the breakdown in “Far Away,” which actually sounds a bit screamo.

“Lucky Guy” is one of the few songs on the album that hints at the band’s maturation. The song is an ode to a wife. It plays like an angsty teenage love song, with insecurities regarding pimples and fancy cars replaced by not having a Ph.D. Packaging these lyrics in a standard punk-pop instrumental wrapper hints the band has grown but not evolved.

The album is very nostalgic, both explicitly in the lyrics of songs like “Best of Times,” and implicitly in the actual sound of the album. Listening to “Plans Within Plans” brings up memories of playing “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” after school and attending Vans Warped Tour.

Perhaps that is the album’s greatest failing. After 20 years, it still sounds like MxPx is playing in hot parking lots with Pennywise and Bad Religion.

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John Anderson



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