Sound — 6
Like most people, "My Own Worst Enemy" - now a nostalgic anthem of the good times of 1999 - was my first exposure to Lit. Honestly I wasn't expecting much from this record, just some catchy and upbeat pop punk, which is probably why I wasn't particularly disappointed, since the rest of the album is more or less a collection of weaker, tweaked facsimiles of that song with an unexciting hit-and-miss ratio. Lit's brand of So-Cal lite-punk pop is best described as "generic" and was way past its prime by the time it came out in 1999, let alone now. Although they might be past their due date musically, Lit's music has none of the angst or emo factor that characterizes most bands of their ilk. Yes, the over-reliance on power chords and the occasional, barely inspired solos (to get an idea of how inspired, they sometimes emulate the vocal melody) are there, but the singing and lyrics are mostly sunny, carefree and upbeat, which actually makes for a pretty good contrast.
Lyrics — 6
The lyrics are very standard pop/rock fare (girls, heartbreak, fragile relationship, etc.) - they're not particularly engaging (the norm in this genre) and whatever appeal they might have is often shrouded by the insipidity of the music. The lyrics do, however, come through on the stronger tracks like "My Own Worst Enemy" ("Please tell me why / My car is in the front yard / And I'm sleeping with my clothes on / Came in through the window last night") and "Miserable", which deserves a heap of credit for making a pun like "You make me come / You make me complete / You make me completely miserable" work as a verse. And besides, Lit know very well that their lyrics aren't meant to be lauded for their emotional depth or integrity, they're meant to be fodder for sing-along vocal phrasing. Aptly, A. Jay Popoff's vocals deliver nearly all the songs in a strained, singsong mode that hardly changes gear throughout the album and barely gives a chance to judge his vocal prowess beyond singing in key. There are times when Lit make the formula click, but mostly it's tiring to listen to the same style - both vocally and musically - spread thin over the album's 40-something minutes.
Overall Impression — 6
It's a by-the-numbers pop punk record with hardly a distinguishing trait between most songs a sunny blend of strained singsong vocals, distorted power chord riffs and rock rhythms slathered with a uniform, dated production that would feel at home on an indie label release in the late 80s. To their credit, Lit do serve up some pretty impressive hooks in the mix, even if most of them are interchangeable with each other. And since this is a guitar site after all, it's also worth mentioning that this would be a good album to transcribe for the beginner guitarist since nearly all the songs here are based around power chords. Nearly all of the album's strongest tracks are singles ("My Own Worst Enemy", "Miserable", "Zip-Lock") while album opener "Four" and "Quicksand" also pack some punchy pop punk and feature memorable hooks that urge you to sing along to them on a long drive.