Review: Spraynard, ‘Mable’
File this review under “Joel tackles his stance on pop punk for the umpteenth time.”
I think I’ve finally got it figured out. It’s not that I’m too old for pop punk, and it’s not that I’ve outgrown the genre. My confusion and consequential flip-flopping feelings on the genre stem from the fact that I have outgrown the desire to wade through every band that sounds like a carbon copy of their peers in the hopes of discovering the next big name. I just want to listen to music that resonates with me, and if that happens to come from a pop punk band, then so be it. I refuse to think of pop punk as a dirty word for another second. Thanks be to ‘Mable.’ Praise be to Spraynard.
There’s a name with some weight, huh? Spraynard is a band that sat on the same shelf as Kind of Like Spitting with me for a while. A name with weight and just a little too much heft in the back catalogue for me to take the dive, just because I didn’t know where to start. As a result, the first Spraynard song that I heard was “Bench.” Please don’t be mad at me. I loved that seven inch, and it was enough to get me excited for a new Spraynard full-length. I had a gut feeling that it was going to be great, but the real excitement came from being able to witness this album roll out, be a part of this release cycle, and then to finally be able to talk about the album, and consequently the band, without being a total poser.
Every good record has a “holy shit” moment, but very few have multiple. The first verse of “Applebee’s Bar” hit me, and it hit me hard. Like, Mike Tyson sans cannibalistic ear biting hard. Hearing “I am every person that you’ve ever ignored/I am the flaming bag of dog shit on your porch/Used to think I was a savior/A part of a cause/Now see I am nothing/No nothing at all” sung with an immediately tangible sense of urgency and melody does some serious things to me. More specifically, hair standing up on the back of me neck, butterflies in the pit of my stomach kind of things. “Bench” may be responsible for my interest in Spraynard, but “Applebee’s Bar” is the reason that I am so emphatic about what an incredible record ‘Mable’ is.
That was, clearly, “Holy shit” moment number 1.
“Buried” is the next song on ‘Mable’ it stings like a kick to the nostalgia. The one good thing that my older cousins ever did for me was turn little Joel on to bands like Blink-182 and Green Day.* I’ve been in and out of pop punk for as long as I can remember. “Buried” and it’s huge, repetitive chorus make me long for the days where my mom would turn on the radio and there was a fairly high chance of hearing a Blink-182 song between the likes of Vanessa Carlton and Michelle Branch, who were also some of little Joel’s favorites. *Insert potentially non-existent gif of the Rocket Power gang skating off into the sunset*
This wasn’t a “holy shit” moment, but it’s a song that needs to be heard.
I’ve been debating just using the lyrical entirety of “Pond” as my About Me should myspace ever make a comeback. Am I happy that I relate to lines like “I hate my own body/but I am fucking lazy/I sit here wanting change/but just keep doing the same damn thing?” Yes and no. No, because I understand that it’s not healthy to have such poor self-image, but it’s something that I live with. Yes, because I feel a sense of comfort in knowing that somebody else feels this way. Maybe comfort isn’t the word I should be using. Camaraderie feels like it makes more sense, but both still ring true. I love this song, and it’s constantly battling with “Applebee’s Bar” for the coveted Favorite Song title. It’s the kind of back and forth rivalry that WWE Superstars only dream of.
That was “holy shit” moment number 2.
Seeing as it’s the song responsible for my newfound interest in Spraynard, It should go without saying that “Bench” was another one of the “holy shit” moments for me. It’s worth repeating though, if only for the sake of emphasis. Good job guys.
The fourth and final “holy shit” moment comes from the song “Out Of Body.” This isn’t what we’ve come to expect from Spraynard; it is the one track from ‘Mable’ that breaks away from the consistent high energy and huge, need to feel good hooks. It’s a song full of self-deprecation that isn’t trying to hide behind anything else. It’s very much on the sleeve of the track, and that’s what helps it to stand out. Sure, songs like “Pond” are full of lyrics in the same vein, but those songs have an out of this world level of catchiness that hides the feeling in the contrast. “Pull me under water/’til I’m about a minute from death/Let it be a reminder of the time that I’ve got left./The rhythm’s always changing/but the tempo stays the same.”
This record is bigger than the “holy shit” moments, though. It’s important to remember that. In a world where pop punk has seemingly become more formulaic than ever, Spraynard comes to the rescue with a collective “lol” and will remind people why they fell in love with the genre. Spraynard aren’t trying to be anything more than a pop punk band, and ‘Mable’ is a strong and triumphant reminder that pop punk isn’t something to be ashamed of. I’m going to end this the same way I started it. Thanks be to ‘Mable.’ Praise be to Spraynard.