Thursday, December 24, 2015

Album Review: The Max Levine Ensemble- Backlash, Baby

The Max Levine Ensemble
Backlash, Baby
***and1/2 out of *****
The Washington DC based trio, The Max Levine Ensemble have put fourth a full length disk of excellent poppy punk with Backlash, Baby. From start to end the group keeps the energy high the lyrics questioning and the tempo upbeat.

Opening with the title track the group injects some starts and stops to go with the pure pop power punk formula of nasally vocals and sing-a-long choruses. The bass and "oh-oh-oh" vocal filled "My Valerian" cooks while "Panoptic Vision" is blistering fast and direct and "Suns Early Rays" builds to a fulfilling crescendo. "Born At The Wrong Time" incorporates the shout along style to the verses and feels like a big single for the group while "Shadow Of Death" uses ska touches to switch up the feel.    

The best tracks here however get more political and deeper musically as the rumble heavy "Fall Of Constellations" crashes with questions about voting malaise around a mid song heavy break. The Bruce Springsteen sounding "American" is the most expansive and exhilarating track here as piano is added to the groups arsenal and the lyrics become personal. They directly address growing up in a country and seeing it change into something that is hard to recognize. The track kicks up at the end and adds to the angest and frustration presented; a winner.

Not everything is fantastic, the middle can drag a touch with "Big Problem, USA" trying to work as an ugly surf rock number and just ends up feeling jumbled. However, the hits far outweigh the misses and the positive closer "Going Home Part 2" shakes into the sunshine of summer and reminds us things can always get better.     
Support the band, buy the album or stream it, and peep some video below:

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