20/20 Vision is the newest album from Pittsburgh punks Anti-Flag, and it is absolutely adequate. The twelfth release from the band, 20/20 Vision is a half hour of not-bad-but-not-great pop punk underneath try-hard lyrics that probably would have meant a lot to me in high school.
20/20 Vision gets going with “Hate Conquers All,” a mid-tempo tune with a catchy chorus, a handful of samples from Trump speeches chucked in throughout, and not much else to write home about. Anti-Flag kick things off with a pedestrian instrumental and the same non-descript political lyrics that I remember turning me off from the band. This lazy approach comes through further on songs like “Christian Nationalist” and “Unbreakable.” I don’t dislike political music and I do agree with a lot of the points Anti-Flag are singing about, but, man, these guys just come off gimmicky a lot of the time.
Despite how crabby I’ve become up to this point, I didn’t completely dislike 20/20 Vision. The album’s title track has some of the strongest melodies on the entire tracklist. The band’s handle on catchy choruses shines through even brighter on “You Make Me Sick” or on the minimalist tune “Un-American.” Smooth vocals aside, Anti-Flag still have some grit to them. “A Nation Sleeps” is a punishing melodic hardcore tune that serves as a nice pick-me-up 2/3rds of the way through this thing.
Believe it or not, I went into this review feeling optimistic. Sure, I haven’t been a big fan of Anti-Flag for quite a few years, but when I heard the extremely catchy ska punk tune “When the Wall Falls” from the band’s 2017 album American Fall, I had some hopes that the long-running punkers had a few new tricks up their sleeves. The bummer came when, from the first song, it seemed that Anti-Flag had slapped together another mediocre release. There are some standout moments, but 20/20 Vision just doesn’t do a lot for me.
Written by Justin Bruce
*edited by Danielle Kenedy