Let’s preface. The Track Record is from Annapolis, the not-so-familiar capitol of Maryland. And being from my home state, I get a bit protective. Strolling along the festive harbors of this bayside gem of a city, TTR made the tiniest of pricks when Rushmore Records scooped them up in 2004. It was a brief moment of pride for Marylanders, but it seems as though this sea-baring bunch never found their bandwagon. Now Drive Thru free, they’ve recorded and self-released a full-length in hopes that more-fitting opportunities will come a-floating this way. I’m noting their valiant efforts, and that’s me admitting my bias.
At the same time, I’m no pop-punk lifer. I own but one Starting Line album, and I can’t cite New Found Glory as one of my favorites. Good pop music requires innovation to really get me moving, and TTR don’t give that to me. The Coolest Kind of Crazy aims for the shortest distance to point B; this calls for snappy choruses bouncing along snappy power chords. Instrumentally, the self-sufficiency is as cute as a Coke with two straws. The album is simple in execution, and as a direct relation, there is a heavy concentration in singer Michael Strackbein’s flairs and minor flaws. As a flaw, his boy-pop petting is taut between extended notes. As a flair, his puppy-tubes work into the grain of the guitar rhythms (see “Absolute”). As an entire effort, The Coolest Kind of Crazy isn’t as crisp as fresh greens, but the correct path is still in eyesight. Take “Lightning In A Bottle” – nimble-witted and quick, TTR are tight-lipped but ready to snuggle. “No Destination” grooves into swishy verses. As contradictory as this may sound, the album works well in a formula.
If The Coolest Kind Of Crazy was released on Drive Thru/Rushmore, I’d I have to sweep aside the Hellogoodbye electronics to even recognize a three chord strum. But because it is not, TTR is raw to the touch, rubbing its grit into the sidewalks of Maryland suburbia. Someone take a goddamn picture; it’s an under-produced pop-punk effort, most likely due to monetary limitations. Nonetheless, the album is a Frogger leap from 2003’s amateur-running self-titled EP. This time around, TTR’s laces are pulled tight, and they are conscious not to overdue the whine and high school walloping.