Sound — 6
When a band explores new styles and sounds throughout the course of it's career, it usually means that the music will progress in at least one aspect or another. For Powerman 5000, the decision to go toward a more punk feel began to be heard on the band's last record Transform and now continues with the latest release Destroy What You Enjoy. Discarding effects and high-cost production of the band's early days is not a negative thing by any means, but you still have to back up that decision by showcasing a collection of raw, infectious tunes. Unfortunately, Powerman 5000's latest lacks an individuality that separates it from the mass of punk albums out there.
Destroy What You Enjoy is an album full of average rock and punk tunes, with most of them blending in together without any distinguishing character. With vocalist Spider as the only remaining original member, Powerman 5000's is now rounded out by guitarists Johnny Heatley and Terry Corso, bassist Siggy, and drummer Adrian Ost. The resulting change in lineup seems to have altered the overall focus of songs as well as the creativity in the musical arrangement. There are some catchy choruses and riffs here and there, but none are powerful enough to likely attract a whole new legion of fans.
The first single off the album is Wild World, which begins with a nondescript guitar line and backed by a series of basic chords. Given the band's choice to go more toward a punk sound, it's not necessarily unexpected or unusual to go for a more basic approach, but there just could have been a little bit more individuality -- particularly for the first single off Destroy What You Enjoy. The early punk bands could pull off simplicity because their day-to-day lives had enough grittiness to bring the punk persona to life. Powerman 5000 is known for another persona altogether -- one that used to include costumed stage shows -- and the punk attitude just does not feel as natural.
Although the record is unsatisfying on the whole, there are a few memorable tunes. Murder is brought to life immediately with a driving rhythm that is backed up by a catchy, melodic guitar intro. Miss America is nowhere near punk and actually meant to be a tongue-in-cheek country tune, with a big payoff. With a slide guitar and growling vocals interwoven into the song, Miss America stands out as a refreshing, odd song that is both entertaining and original.
Lyrics — 7
There is plenty of cynicism on Destroy What You Enjoy, and the lyrics could have easily been too generic. But Spider does take time to make the words more interesting than you might expect. On All My Friends Are Ghosts Spider sings, It's not irrational to get emotional, people love to indulge the sensational; Don't blame society when you lie to me, might be invisible but you ain't no piety. Rather than go overly basic and have a series of predictable rhyme schemes, Spider gives the listener a little more upon which to reflect.
It's in the choruses that things get a bit tedious. In Who Do You Think You Are Spider lays it all out in the chorus saying, Who do you think you are? Who do you think you are? I want to know before you gotta go; Who do you think you are? The lyrics are fairly predictable, and it's unfortunate considering Spider proves his ability to write intriguing lyrics in other songs.
The punk genre is absolutely more blunt and straightforward in it's lyrical delivery, so the words don't necessarily need to be too elaborate. But All My Friends Are Ghosts and Who Do You Think You Are just don't even seem to be written by the same person, making it hard to just accept the sub-par lyrics of the latter song.
Overall Impression — 6
While Powerman 5000 should be commended on taking a risk on a new sound, the results are just not impressive enough. It is refreshing to hear the band play with such passion, however, and it is obvious that the musicians are enjoying the new turn toward punk rock. For fans of Powerman 5000 throughout the band's history, they might even be able to embrace the new sound because of that evident passion.
But for the average listener, Destroy What You Enjoy just does not represent the best songwriting. It has nothing to do with what the band used to sound like -- the songs would still be lacking depth even for a seasoned punk band. If Powerman 5000 has a love for a harder punk sound, the songwriting will simply have to catch up with the members' passion for the genre.