Sound — 7
When members are lost to Miley Cyrus and her raging trying-not-to-be-a-pre-teen stage act, you have to pray that they don't come back looking like Adam Lambert rejects trying to pull-off 10-minute synthesizer solos. Fortunately for longtime pop punk rockers American Hi-Fi, a few of their members didn't have to suffer to the hands of a wannabe country-esque Madonna. Barely impacted by past or present collaborations, the Boston quartet have unveiled Fight The Frequency, the group's fourth full-length that moshes with the timeline of punk with a reckless abandon.
Though a 2010 "Flavor Of The Weak" is no where to be found, the 12 recordings touch different ages of punk without leaving permanent stains and invite listeners on a general journey through the genre's variety of sounds. The self-titled pop anthem and guitar-churning "This Is A Low" try to do their best Green Day impressions but it's the stroll into familiar territory like the edgy ballads "Where Love Is A Lie" and "Lost" that reassure the record won't be plastered as a complete failure. That is if you can stomach the Yellowcard-powered "Keep It Like A Secret" and vocalist/guitarist Stacey Jones' 90s' growl on "Frat Clump" and "Bullet". The consistent page-turning of styles and sounds invites those with an open mind, but it does carry a momentum that can cause seasickness, especially if you were hoping American Hi-Fi would stay inside of the box instead of ripping it open, trying to find another full of cereal prizes.
Lyrics — 7
"If you believe the worst in me, I'll do the same for you / I'll crush your dreams if you crush my dreams , it's the least I can do" wails American Hi-Fi's famed frontman on "Acetate". The honest intentions brings out the early 2000s' in the group but as the disc spins on, it's worrisome if the band is losing its flavor.
Jones is known as a chilled-out vocalist who could care less about evolving his burnt-out rasp, but it's come to a point where his performance seems to be unbearable to hear. Not because his voice is strained to an extent, but at times ("Stargazer") he acts uninspired even if he really is trying to channel different influences under a punk moniker. His ability with the pen is still intact as almost every track on Fight The Frequency is written with the band's trademark style, but it's not enough to rid the record of a sense of laziness you often find in the jam sessions your stoner friends host every Saturday afternoon.
Overall Impression — 7
Thinking the group had passed on years ago, the expectations for Fight The Frequency to soar were low. Not as low as Miley Cyrus' transformation into a 17-year-old premature Lady Gaga, but enough to discourage one from giving the album a chance.
Such an opportunity is what it needs as even though it doesn't stand out like a beach ball in a haystack, American Hi-Fi's new work is worth venturing through as a blistering ear-basher or touching punk ballad may become one of your favourite songs this year. In a year like 2010, it's heartwarming to see such an aging act reach out to fad-loving audience, even if they wear torn Converses with a dignified dress shirt.