Dumb Is Forever - The Spazzys (Freeform Patterns/Fuse)
Ya gotta put things in context. If The Spazzys hadn't made an effervescent pop-punk classic in 2004's "Aloha! Go Bananas", we'd all be praising "Dumb Is Forever" as one of the most righteous and infectious debut albums of 2012. They did and it isn't but it's still a pretty good effort.
Why so long between drinks? Glad you asked. This record took six years to surface thanks to a protracted cage dearth match between the band and its management. Lesser acts would have folded the tent and departed the campsite. The Spazzys rode it out and won - after a fashion. No court can give them back their lost momentum.
So let's cut to the chase. "Dumb Is Forever" is the sound of The Spazzys all growed up. It couldn't be anything but. Three girls who were school mates took to the road, played whatever live music nooks and crannies that survive and evolved as a band and people.
They had lives. One became a lawyer. Another works with kids. Instead of singing about Italian punk band drummers and covering girl group classics (faithfully but very well), The Spazzys are tackling topics like break-ups ("I Want A Divorce", "Dissolution Is The Only Solution"), depression ("Best Waves Ever"), standing up for yourself ("Taking Out The Trash") and embryonic relationships ("Don't Say Goodnight".)
The record title's not entirely correct.The fun's still there but this time it's thought-provoking. I doubt a song like "Doctor Doctor", a breakneck shuffle with lyrics like: "Went to see the doctor because I was in such pain/He said: 'Oh I see you've slit your jugular vein'" would have made the cut on the last album.
"Dumb" isn't as instantly embraceable as "Aloha" but a few plays will surely get you on more than nodding terms. "Disolution" shows The Spazzys haven't lost that pop edge and there are plenty of Ramonic influences, overt and less so, on cuts like "Creep", the chugging "Maybe"and "Love = Pain". Dee Dee would have approved of "Don't Say Goodnight".
Veteran Charles Fisher produced "Dumb" and deserves full accolades. The album's a skilful blend of power and pop that brings melodies to the surface in all the right spots, with scads of keyboards colouring the songs.
Dumb might not be forever but great pop punk is.