Strike Anywhere

Exit English

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Though not as groundbreaking as the hype would suggest, Strike Anywhere's Exit English is an inflammatory and always on-the-verge political punk album. Like Avail and Lifetime, Strike Anywhere melds melodicism and hooks to unrelenting hardcore intensity. It makes for a record that is as fun as it is serious -- equal parts pogo punk and agitprop anti-authoritarianism. Songs like "Blaze" and "To the World" sound like an East Coast version of the Offspring circa Smash -- certainly high praise in terms of catchiness. And even if sometimes the band is a bit heavy-handed ("The voices of the people will come down like rain!"), Strike Anywhere plays music that is the arena rock of punk: shout-along choruses ("Lights Go Out"), spiraling riffs, vocal chord-thrashing screams. The only real drawback is that while bands like the Blood Brothers, the Mars Volta, and the Weakerthans are pushing punk music into markedly different (from each other) and strikingly fresh terrain, Strike Anywhere seems to be firmly planted in the moment during 1994 when the hardcore scene finally really embraced melody -- not a bad place to be, but the members of Strike Anywhere have more in them than that.

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