Review: Antarctigo Vespucci, ‘Leavin’ La Vida Loca’
I’m hesitant to call Antarctigo Vespucci a supergroup because that sounds like a reason for people to write them off. The band is comprised of Chris Farren of Fake Problems and Jeff Rosenstock of every great punk band you’ve ever heard of (see: Bomb The Music Industry and Andrew Jackson Jihad). Both are names that should be familiar. If not for releases from the aforementioned groups, then from their budding solo careers. Rosenstock recently put out an LP that I absolutely loved called ‘We Cool?’ and Farren released an EP called ‘Where U Are.’ If you haven’t heard the names before now, then I’m going to beg you to queue at least those releases up for a decent listen. On the much more likely chance that you have heard the names before, I’m sorry for the history lesson. At least I kept it brief.
‘Leavin’ La Vida Loca’ is the debut full-length album from Antarctigo Vespucci. The release sees both Farren and Rosenstock leaving their punk rock home base and sees them treading in similar grounds as fellow supergroup Pet Symmetry. Only it’s a little less Motion City Soundtrack and a lot more Beach Boys. There’s a carefree kind of vibe that is often associated with Summertime throughout the record, and at the risk of sounding ludicrous, it just feels beachy.
“2 Days” kicks the record off in a way that I’ve chosen to compare to putting your toes in the sand. It’s a warm and comforting sensation that feels both new and familiar. You’ve (probably) heard the voices before, but it’s (probably) your first time hearing them in unison. The song tackles feeling like a nomad and being dismissed as a person because of an internet persona all in one breath. It doesn’t dive much below the surface of those topics, but the mere fact that they were brought up shows a level of self-awareness. The lines in question are “Tie me down with rope/’cause I can’t stay in one place for more than two days/My wheels start to spin in place” and “From now on I’ll just pretend I’m listening when you tell me I don’t take anything seriously.”
The first of those two topics seems to go hand in hand with the lifestyle of a musician. Consistently having to tour and go from place to place without much time to process has to become a part of your personality at some point, and I’m sure that lone trait makes living a life outside of the music industry difficult. The second feels ultimately more personal to Farren. His internet persona is one that doesn’t seem to take anything seriously. I don’t know how much of that bleeds into his reality, but it’s not hard to see why people would assume that he’s one that just can’t take things seriously. It’s refreshing to see that level of self-awareness from him.
This is something we’ll see come up again on the whole of “Save Me From Myself.” The lyrics seem to follow the pattern of: list some [self-]destructive things that I’m aware of myself doing, chorus, repeat. See: “I took the lid of the poppers/and I inhaled until I could not see straight/Fell on my back on the futon/Oh, I know this can’t be good for my brain./They said I’m not on the list now/I saw my picture with an “X” over my face/Just then they sky opened up wide/Now I’ll die and hit my head on the street./Chorus: You’ve gotta save my from myself x 2.” It’s catchy, it’s fun, and it’s seemingly confessional. It’s basically everything I’m looking for in a song.
There are songs that will feel familiar to their previous work on ‘Leavin’ La Vida Loca,’ so I don’t want you to write it off as a complete departure from their previous work. The song “Hooray For Me” is arguably the most punk song on the record, and would feel right at home in the catalog of either of their solo records. The riff feels like something off of the most recent Adventures record, and the melodies scream of pop songs like “She’s So High.” It’s the culmination of what this record is supposed to be. Punk at it’s roots. Pop on the surface. Killer all around.
The same could be said of “No Bad Memories.” The track hits hard and it moves fast. Clocking in at 2:16, the best comparison that I can make is to having your ass handed to you by The Flash.
For the most part, these songs are short and sweet. The longest on the record being 3:55 and the shortest being 1:05. They aren’t trying to draw things out and they don’t rely on a constant beratement of repetition to keep you coming back to these songs. They want you to keep coming back because you love the songs. And I’ll admit, it’s hard not to fall in love with them. They all feel so personal, but maintain the common goal of the record. To be stuck in your head. To pull you in. It’s all chew and almost no swallow. A tease of sorts until you get to the closer. That’s when you’ve hit the real sweet spot.
I talk a lot about closure when I talk about closing tracks. Antarctigo Vespucci closes their debut album with a song that leaves you with a sense of closure – as everybody should, but it does more than that. “I See Failure” feels like the ultimate step in the direction they obviously want this project to go. It’s got that punk rock sensibility to it, but it feels like a pop song. The track shows Farren’s vocals at the rawest they’ve been on the record, but it has arguably the biggest and most anthemic chorus. The track doesn’t allow you to write them off for being a supergroup. It doesn’t allow you to roll your eyes at this pop endeavor. It begs you to sing along and it hugs you like the sand hugs your toes. This is huge. This is pop catharsis. This is Antarctigo Vespucci and they are ‘Leavin’ La Vida Loca,’ baby.