Mixtapes Ė Ordinary Silence
Record Label: No Sleep Records
Release Date: June 25th 2013
A little under a year ago, Ohio pop-punk four-piece Mixtapes released debut record on No Sleep Records Even On the Worst Nights, and while it was my first full length (and even just any material) from the band, I was mildly impressed. It wasnít anything special, but thatís the whole point of the band, if you really think about it. Mixtapes isnít out to change pop-punk, let alone change the world. Theyíre just four friends who love playing pop-punk songs about their every day life. Theyíre average people who do average things, and thatís what they talk about. They talk about real life. Their music may not be perfect, and it may not extremely unique and groundbreaking, but does it need to be? Well, no, it doesnít. Fellow pop-punk band and Ohio natives Light Years released their debut record a couple of weeks ago (called I Wonít Hold This Against You, for those of you who are interested), and that record really stuck a chord with me, because while the lyrics were simplistic, they worked. They were all about growing up, and trying to accept things such as growing up, and even death. It was a very ďrealĒ album, and so is this. Albeit, itís not as ďdeepĒ and personal, but itís still real. Itís just about everyday life, and nothing more. Itís not meant to be intellectual or deep, but itís still meant to be relatable. Thatís what Mixtapes has going for them. Their lyrics and their overall sound is very relatable and easy to understand. Thatís what drove me to them in the first place. That, and the dual vocal dynamic of Ryan Rockwell and Maura Weaver. Aside from dual vocalists, theyíre male and female, which is really interesting. Itís a unique dynamic, so even if their overall sound isnít too unique, thereís one unique aspect about them.
Other than that, though, theyíve never quite been one of my favorite pop-punk bands, but Iíve never disliked them, either. Iím happy to listen to them, and theyíre a very fun band, but Iíve just never loved them enough to keep going back constantly. One thing that has bothered me about them, and it may just be a nitpick on my part, but their records can have a lot of songs on them. Not necessarily be lengthy in terms of the overall length of the record, but just having a lot of songs, so it feels like itís longer than what it really is. For instance, Even On the Worst Nights was 38 minutes, but had 16 songs. Ordinary Silence is only 37 minutes, and has 14 songs. This album feels much more concise than the former, because there arenít as many. Granted, itís only two less, but itís still something. Even so, it bothered me, just because have that many songs on a record can be too much, and if youíre not careful, you might miss a song or two. While the record itself may only be 36 minutes, Ordinary Silence does suffer from the same thing that Even On the Worst Nights did, which was droning on after awhile. The record was only about 38 minutes, as I mentioned, but it seemed to drag on awhile, because of its tracklisting. The songs were all enjoyable, albeit some of them didnít do anything for me, but as a whole, it felt rather long. The songs were all short, but the record itself felt much longer than it needed to be. I did say that Ordinary Silence is only 14 songs long, which makes a bit of a difference, but itís not much. It still suffers from the same thing, but itís not as extreme here. Even then, thatís something to easily overlook. The music itself, though, is quite impressive. Itís a step up from Even On the Worst Nights, even if they havenít done much different. The dual vocals are still there, the relatable lyrics are still there in full force, and the short pop-punk jams are still there, too. Itís a step up from their previous record, but it still does fall into the ďgenericĒ category more often than not. Some of the songs are great, but others are rather forgettable, even if they are enjoyable.
The record begins with ďBad Parts,Ē and itís a really solid introductory track. While the record does have some generic and rather forgettable songs, the band has improved on their quirky brand of pop-punk that deals everyday life. The instrumentation on this record is great, and ďBad PartsĒ is a prime example of that. What I loved about their last record was the combination of indie and pop-punk, and they continue that to a much bigger degree here. Not to mention, there are a lot of catchy hooks, too. Thereís a part in the song where Weaver repeats the word ďnoĒ a few times, and itís honestly quite catchy. Iíve had it stuck in head for the last few days, and I donít know why. Anyway, ďBad PartsĒ has a misleading title, because this song is one where theyíve taken all of the good parts of their sound, and amplified them. And thatís kind of what happens on the record. Itís not perfect, and there are some songs that donít do much for me, but itís still enjoyable for what it is. In fact, the first three songs are absolutely fantastic. Weaver takes vocal control for the majority of ďBad Parts,Ē while Rockwell comes in for the second song, while Weaver does come in occasionally. Iíve always enjoyed how neither vocalist overshadows the other. They both have songs where they take lead vocals, but for a majority of the record, they share the songs, and it works perfectly for them. I love hearing them trade lines. Itís almost as if theyíre having a conversation with the way these lyrics are written, along with the way they sing them. Third track ďElevator DaysĒ is the first song released the record, and I can see why after hearing it a few times. This is where the very relatable lyrics come in, too, because the song has Weaver and Rockwell talking about theyíre trying to improve themselves and get better, and no matter what you, the listener, might be struggling with at the moment, this is a nice little inspiring to say, ďHey, Iím just trying to get better, and Iím doing all that I can.Ē Itís simple, but it works.
A little while later, thereís a one-two punch of sixth and seventh tracks ďGravel (Interlude)Ē and ďHappy and Poor.Ē The former is an interlude, which is obvious, thanks to the title, but itís a really cool little interlude. Itís quiet, and goes by rather quick, which works for it. Itís a contrast to how the record has been going so far, and this song has one of my favorite lines on the entire record, which goes, ďSometimes Iím just happy that Iím alive.Ē I donít know what it is about that lyric, but itís perfect. The latter track is another one of my favorite tracks, mainly for its lyrics. ďHappy and PoorĒ deals with just that; being happy, even though you may not have much money. As for the last half of the record, it still holds up, just as well as the first half. One song that sticks out is ninth track ďYou Look Like Springtime,Ē which is a rather slow track. Thatís why it sticks out. A majority of the record is fast, aggressive pop-punk, but this song slows things down slightly. Itís also the longest song on the record, at a little over three and a half minutes. The only other song that really grabs my attention is the closing track, ďBe the Speak That You Change About.Ē Again, itís the lyrics that really suck me in, because this song is a jab at bands that ďsell out,Ē and only do things for money. Itís become a recent trend to call out musicians for being awful people, even though the musicians calling them out are just as awful (Iím looking at you, Attila). But Mixtapes arenít quite doing that. Theyíre not calling anyone specifically, but just saying, ďWe donít like that, and weíd rather have a small dedicated group of fans, rather than selling out stadiums.Ē Itís a valid point to make, even today, so itís a nice closing song. The record itself is quite solid, even though it can be rather generic at times. The lyrics are very relatable, even if they are simple. And the best things about this record are Weaver and Rockwellís vocals. They may not be great vocalists, but their vocals together are unique and enjoyable to hear. All in all, itís a very fun and relatable pop-punk record thatís great for the summer.