Album: Brace Yourself For The Mediocre
Label: Five Minute Walk Records
Reviewed By: Justin Brinker
It is hard to believe that a year has gone by since Five Iron Frenzy bid farewell to many fans in Colorado. A band that was always heads and shoulders above its colleagues in a genre that was irrelevant and stale as soon as it had reared its head from the so-called “underground.” Front man, Reece Roper, had dabbled in his side project, Brave Saint Saturn, throughout the remaining few years of the Five Iron legacy, but it did not have the chemistry or the magic that Five Iron fans had grown to love. Well, FIF is no more but Reece Roper is certainly alive and well and still putting out records. His newest outing is with the pop-punk act, aptly named Roper, and their debut full-length is entitled, “Brace Yourself For The Mediocre.”
“Hello Lamewads” opens the record in a cynical and goofy fashion as the listener is greeted with electric guitar, drums, bass, and a synthesizer. It appears that Roper has become fascinated with the synthesizer much like Reggie and the Full Effect, except it does not work well at all on this record. Not only does it sound dated, it also sounds empty in comparison to the guitar tone, and it starts to get a bit predictable. Roper taunts in the opener, “Hello lamewads, I’m with you. Raise your fists if this rings true” and his vocals have never sounded better. “Amplify” makes use of the synthesizer once again in the introduction, while the chorus boasts a gigantic hook as Roper sings, “We live, we die, to amplify.” “Red Eye to Miami” sounds like a Dingees B-side over a dubbed out drum beat on the verse before the chorus kicks in with sing-shout vocals. “Quicksilver” is one of the gems on this record with a driving bass line on the verses and is Roper at their collective best musically and lyrically, with lines like, “We take the crumbs like our hearts are at peace. We are far too easily pleased.” “Day of Pigs” picks thing up quite a bit is driven with a Lagwagon-esque drum part as Roper teeters between singing and shouting throughout most track. “Fireflies” is one of the few mid-tempo songs on the record while “You’re Still the One” is possibly one of the silliest and worst covers I have heard in a while, of an already terrible song by Shania Twain. The album closer “In Excelsis Deo” manages to put the record back on track and closes it out in strong fashion.
The downfalls to this record are quite obvious. The songs tend to blend together too much after a few listens. The one-word choruses become expected and mundane and lose their effectiveness in time. The verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus is a formula that gets old quick. The lyrics at times lack depth and come across as being too silly, but there are also places where they are extremely effective and breath inspiration. This particular genre of music is easy to fall into the gap of predictability. Maybe my expectations were a little too high, I’m not sure. FIF was the leader of the ostensible pack and Reece Roper was a gigantic part of that. It appears that Roper (the individual) has once again chosen a style of music that is fast becoming decayed. This release is much stronger than a lot of what is coming out of the pop-punk genre but it still lacks that certain magic that many of us held dear.