Push aside the labyrinths of metaphorical themes and trendy good looks. Nothing hits oil like pop-punk anthems that reflect a genuine, good-natured spirit. DCide Records, a label that boasts alumni like Nothingface and TRUSTcompany, gives way to such with Voodoo Blue and their full-length Smile N Nod. As a result, there is a pop-punk intensity that can start dance parties and cover broader audiences - or at least until track five. Voodoo Blue is a distinct pop-punk three piece, and pop-punk is a mostly linear genre by nature. Lost in a sea of hippity power chords, hyperjacked melodies, and a mall-punk crunch, there is a skimpy argument for lasting power.
Subtle jazz themes and occasional metal outtakes (see “#4 is My Favorite Song”) wiggle a cameo or two, but Voodoo barely deviate from their straight-laced whimsical fun. The path is strewn with hooks galore and obvious sing-alongs but not like the whiny trials of other current pop-punk releases. Singer Dan Book is stealthy in his dynamic maneuvers and his nasally croons don’t sound stuffy or pre-mature. Instead of butterfly riffs and cloud fluff drum rolls, the instrumentation is slightly more aged and gritty than you would expect. Smile N Nod almost feels older, bordering old school and college radio, but lacks the lyrical content to provoke real scholastic poetry.
Smile N Nod may not be as horrendous as another pop-punk number would suggest. From “Enter To Win,” the neck-breaking opener, to the silvery harmonies of track four, “Non-Popular,” the opening five tracks have steady foundations and fluid, carefully executed arrangements. But beyond 20 minutes or so, the album looses its edgy flavor, reverting back to the bland guitars and half-life catch of other sub-par acts. The rest is muddled together like the mushy peas served with my lukewarm meatloaf. It had the potential to shine, but releasing an album brimming with toothsome breadwinners may as well be rocket science. Perhaps an EP would be better suited.
Oh, and the hidden track is just creepy.
RIYL: SR-71, The Matches, Punchline, and Lucky Boys Confusion.