Overtime pop punk has become one of those genres that people feel they need to defend. Though it is rather difficult to argue anything negative about the affects Blink-182 had on music, the modern stereotype of pop punk since Blink’s heyday has significantly been brought down due to repeated themes and overdone motifs. Unfortunately, Agree to Disagree does not do much to help alleviate this situation.
Agree to Disagree’s latest release, If You Think We Suck Now, Just Wait Til We Sell Out, has pop punk written all over it. The release is filled to the brim with childhood references like naming their first track “Stoop Kid’s Afraid to Leave the Stoop” after the ’90s classic Hey Arnold or embedded with strange citations towards other musicians (the two tracks, “Famous Last Words” and “Kids Think They’re Bulletproof,” are so similarly relevant to old My Chemical Romance songs that I had to do a double take). And though being nostalgic is great, hell it’s the reason everyone likes to cite Nirvana and the Stones as their major influences, the child-like nature of it all just doesn’t entirely stick for me.
For the whole youth in revolt feel of the record’s lyrics and song titles, the vocals are a bit of a throw-off as they sound a lot older and worn out than the 20-something-year-old projected by the content. This aged feel then again comes across in the intense amount of skill poured into the instrumentals. Pop punk generally can get away with knowing a basic understanding of chords and progressions (hence why it’s part “punk”) but Agree to Disagree really know what they are playing. With ample amounts of guitar solos and the super catchy (and oddly very familiar) riffs on tracks like “The Basement Song (Havoc)” the skill level of musicianship exceeds the lyricism and wit of record as a whole.
With something like serious thought going into how the guitar should reverb and when, it is surprising that a lot of the tracks deal with whiney tunes about moving on and working together to get from one state to the next. There’s the joke that to form a pop punk band means you need to talk about friendship, youth, and getting out of someplace (like a hometown) that Agree to Disagree seem to only help to prove even truer with a lack of in depth writing.
Though not my first choice for pop punk bands, Agree to Disagree can carry a tune and will appeal to anyone just looking for a little angst in their life. Musically, the album is as solid as can be, if only a little more work was put into writing, then maybe Agree to Disagree will get the chance to actually “sell out.”
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Natasha Van Duser
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