Better Luck Next Time - Start from Skratch
Record Label: World Records
Release Date: April 15, 2008
I don't want my future kids anywhere near most Blink-182 records, at least not until they're adults. I imagine the band as a parent's worst nightmare; they'll cuss, they'll joke about "nasty sex stuff," and they'll encourage the other kids to do the same. It just ain't healthy for a child to grow up around such acts. Unfortunately, Blink-182 are also the Holy Grail of pop-punk music. And so with the existence of such a band, the morally striving family is shoved into a morally wrenching dilemma. "Should we expose our kids to the glorious pop-punk days of the past, a feat only Blink-182 is worthy of handling, or is Amy Grant enough?"
Now I'm not saying they are the first band to do this, but Better Luck Next Time provides the ideal solution. Working like a filter, the band's Start From Skratch reminds nostalgic romantics of everything they adored about Blink-182 (and also MxPx and New Found Glory while they're at it) without having to come across mentions of unabashed incest, voyeurism, or anything of the like. Hey, lead vocalist Brian Bortoli isn't even "into girls who just post pictures of their tits and ass all over [myspace]"! That's certainly something valuable and rare in today's "you show me yours, I'll show you mine" world.
Musically, Start From Skratch is the same pop-punk sound done over and over and over again, though it hits with greater intensity and energy than any other generic pop-punk band since the year 2000. "The Broken Heart's Delight" begins the record - and might as well begin the summer - with a typical piano-line-to-blistering-power-chords intro and happy-go-lucky, albeit familiarly terrible lyrics, "There was a better day, unlike today, / where the vision inside decided to stay... Now I know this pen will never leave my hand / Won't you sing me to sleep / I cannot stand the leak from the faucet that runs dry / It drips like the tear from my eye." Then comes a palm-muted radio rock bridge that'll force even the hunkiest men to drop whatever they're doing no matter where they are and flip out their cell phones to wave along to the riff.
"The Broken Heart's Delight" is followed by 12 more massive pop-punk anthems rooted in the same catchy-as-spider-web mentality. On a throwback album like this, 13 tracks may be a little too much to handle especially because they're all derived from an all too everyday sound, but at least listeners are treated to an appropriate synth probably influenced by Love Me Electric. The closer in particular, however, sticks out like a giraffe among a herd of buffalo. But it's not because of the music.
Folks, today's scene is indoctrinated with cookie-cutter-peanut-butter trend bands that do nothing but follow fashion in order to pick up scene girls. These bands have little to no talent, yet have somehow managed to brainwash the current generation of youth into thinking they have legitimate originality. They're all just in it for the money and the fame; there is no effort to be musically exclusive. Yes, that would be you, We the Kings, Cute Is What We Aim For and all your sibling clones. And it seems that on Start From Skratch's track 13, "Disaster Bound," Better Luck Next Time is calling for a revival of meaningful music. The lyrics read "We seem to build up walls around us / And in attempt to climb, we're only falling down / I can't manage to find you when the scene's disaster bound..." Then, sarcastically, "I've got a bad feeling it's the worst idea I've ever had... / I'll trade my punk rock records for my girlfriend's make-up and her skin tight jeans / I bought ti all in this Hot Topic starter kit / I missed the band but I'm fashion statement number one." And finally, "This is our Tragic Kingdom going Double Platinum / Have we all forgot; Turn the Radio Off and bring me back to basic Teenage Politics."
YES! Let's ditch this poser fashioncore illusion and return to the good ol' days when there was actually passion in music! That's something I can agree with, and something Better Luck Next Time is gently reminding us with their music. And that means this is a band I'm willing to stand by; a band that picks up their instruments and strums for the love of it. Follow the suggestion to leave behind your pretentious The Maine or A Bird A Sparrow records and pick up Start From Skratch - it's worth fighting for.
Great review, and I really loved your intro! I completely agree with you, BLNT is basically the epitome of clean pop-punk. I personally really enjoyed this album. It's very fun, energetic, catchy, and just "hits the spot." I also really liked the keyboards/piano; it sounds really great.