Batfoot! -- Melodic Tardcore
It's Alive Records, 2008*
I'm always a tiny bit wary of records sent for review, largely because there's always a part of me that feels bad if I don't like the stuff sent my way, as was recently the case with the History of Guns's Acedia. You see, as someone who works in a creative field, I know how much work and emotion goes into something you bring into being out of the nothing of non-being. And that, in itself is beautiful. I also know how it feels when something you've made doesn't meet with a positive reception and, while all artists understand that his or her work will never be universally loved, it can still hurt when that reality is hammered home. So, again, I always cringe just a little when I hit "play."
Fortunately, I like Batfoot! so I don't have to feel bad about anything. In fact, I like everything about this little EP. From the second I saw the crudely-drawn cartoon cover (it kinda looks like it was made with Microsoft's Paint program) of smiling, biker jacket-clad kids intently playing music (without cords or amps!) to the second "Get Outta My Face" faded to silence some fifteen minutes later, I was smiling.
Batfoot! is a band that really gets the pop-punk formula and plays the music the right way. As someone who has fond memories of the mid-nineties pop-punk scene, I love when bands remind me of Screeching Weasel, the Queers, the Riverdales, the Teen Idols, and other Ramonesy groups from that era. And Batfoot! does so instantly.
So, I am going to list the things I love about this record:
1. The grammar. The exclamation point following the band's simultaneously nonsensical and endearing name is not pretentious like the one following Against Me! or, God-forbid, punctuating Panic! at the Disco. If anything, it makes you realize how seriously some bands take themselves when, really, they shouldn't.
2. The cover art. It's so amaturish but, at the same time, it makes you want to love the music. The guys look like they're having the time of their lives and, indeed, when you hear "Batfoot!'s having fun" on the opening track, you'll be inclined to believe them. I think they really are having the time of the lives.
3. The lyrics. On "Judy's Got a Girlfriend," Batfoot! takes the Ramones' Judy and Sheena and makes them a couple. And the frustrated vocalist wants to date Judy. This is the same sort of silliness you'd expect of the Queers or Screeching Weasel. And, as an added bonus, the song's reference to "bubblegum" hearkens back to the Ramones' "Rockaway Beach." Elsewhere, the band devotes an entire song to the bassist's "piece of shit" car. A third lyrical gem I'd like to highlight comes on "Shane Has an Odour Problem," when, after hearing the vocalist's assertion that the aforementioned Shane does indeed have the problem in question, the backing vocalist succinctly explains "he smells like shit!" It's so good-naturedly inane that you can't help but grin.
4. The music. This is pop-punk played the way pop-punk should be played. The decision I usually make when giving a record a B-range grade as opposed to a C-range grade is whether or not I would play it on my radio show. This is a definite yes. As a debut effort, Melodic Tardcore is exactly what you'd want from a self-described pop-punk band: self-effacing humor, catchy songs, and concentrated fun, not to mention intimations of the potential to put out some seriously rocking records in the future.
*It's Alive Records are the U. S. distributor of Melodic Tardcore.
Sobriquet Grade: 81 (B-).