Pkew Pkew Pkew

Optimal Lifestyles

Written by: PP on 24/04/2019 22:04:54

"'Cause we're the same old kids that we were before, except older. Yeah, we're the same dumb kids, maybe that makes us dumber", Pkew Pkew Pkew sing on infectious opening track "Still Hanging Out After All These Years", outlining exactly what sophomore album "Optimal Lifestyles" is all about. Much like their self-titled debut, we're neck deep in no-frills pop punk territory with plenty of single-line choruses repeated to ad infinitum, supported by simplistic three-chord melodies that together create a beer-fueled party atmosphere. The key difference? The record has a more polished, more mature vibe to it. The production is a little bit cleaner and the songs are a little less all-over-the-place, although that was a big part of the charm on the debut, which effectively removes some of the infectious, buzzing energy on some parts of the record. In other words, it's a little more Elway, a little less The Dopamines on this album.

Is it for the better? Yes and no. The band are still kings of beer-in-your-hand chant-alongs like the "getting drunk in somebody's basement, I kind of miss being underage wasted" bits of album highlight "Mt. Alb" or "65 nickels in my pocket, it's how I'm gonna get home tonight!" on "65 Nickels", which given their lighting speed tempo and rowdy choruses are ideal for intense basement punk experiences. Yet the more polished and melancholic style of songs like "I Don't Matter At All" is more akin to Teenage Bottlerocket style no-frills pop punk and lacks some of the spirited, no-fucks-given roll-around that the self-titled album was rammed with.

Essentially, the buzz and bright naivety of the debut album which made it so successful has been replaced with an attempt at varying the expression -- e.g. trumpets on "Point Break" or the Brian Fallon-esque baritone opening to "Passed Out" -- but it also means the expression is less disorderly. Where before it sounded like the band were rolling down the staircase while shredding away to pop punk in absolutely chaotic fashion, now they're safely onboard a stage, all set up and everything in tune during most songs. "The Polynesian" is perhaps where this approach works best, with its casual story-telling and Elway-esque soundscape.

That said, fifteen songs in just 35 minutes tells you what we're dealing with: no frills pop punk. So despite the critique in this review, the record is still a highly enjoyable injection of simple beer drinking party punk that's as easily accessible as it is infectious throughout. Excited to see where these guys will go next, but here's to hoping a little rough-around-the-edges production-wise, at least.

Download: Mt. Alb, 65 Nickels, Passed Out, The Polynesian
For the fans of: Elway, Teenage Bottlerocket, Direct Hit!, The Hextalls, The Dopamines, The Copyrights,
Listen: Facebook

Release date 01.03.2019
Big Scary Monsters / Dine Alone Records

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