Alright people, confession time: I have never been to the Vans Warped Tour. I’ve also never ridden a skateboard; properly, that is. I had one as a kid and I only ever rode on my hands and knees. That said, I have listened to my fair share of pop punk over the years and can still recall those exuberant teenage days filled with playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater and seeing videos like “Rock Show” by blink-182 and “Fat Lip” by Sum 41. The Maxwells second full-length release Can’t Stop Losing, due out this fall, had these memories swirling back into my brain like a frontside 360 pop shove-it.
All the elements that make up a pop-punk record are present on Can’t Stop Losing. The title track shows off the twin punch of straight forward guitar progressions leading up to the anthemic, hooky chorus that bands like Green Day and NOFX made a healthy living off of in the 90s. Is it a game changer? No, but it’s catchy and infectious. The lyrics are full of teenage angst and unrequited love. The track “Split My Heart In Two” is probably the best example of this as vocalist J.V. Sardelli really pours his heart out on that one. The Maxwells really do an excellent job of mixing an aggressive punk rock aesthetic with an emotional heartfelt quality that never feels forced or unnatural.
On “Harlot” the Maxwells bust out and land a 1080 (that’s a skateboarding reference. I’m an expert remember). The chorus is absolutely delightful, Sardelli sings like a man truly smitten by the song’s title character and the guitars and drums create a punctuated wave of energy that beckons you to jump up and down. The song also has some righteous group vocals on the “whoas.” It doesn’t get much more punk rock than that! I would love to hear a live crowd get behind this one.
The second half of the album feels a little bit redundant. The songs are still solid and carry the same energy as the first half, but I’m sensing a trend or a formula at work. A slightly expanded and diverse repertoire would undoubtedly have the collective punk rock scene hurling its undergarments at the band. And that’s the dream, isn’t it?
Written by Lee Ferguson
*edited by Danielle Kenedy