Riddlin' Kids

Hurry Up and Wait

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    6
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Produced, poppy, smooth -- these are the three words that punk rock purists avoid most often. It isn't that a good punk album can't be one of these things, but through time they've developed a stigma that is hard to overcome. The Riddlin' Kids will need to overcome that stigma somehow, because Hurry Up and Wait, their debut, is a shining example of all three of those adjectives. Crystal clear production, hooks straight out of the early-'90s Goo Goo Dolls school of songwriting, and a mathematical precision make this one of the most accessible punk rock debuts to come along in a long time. The Riddlin' Kids are filled with angst and emotional confusion but very little rage, making them fall much further onto the pop side of the equation when the term punk-pop is thrown around. This makes for some very engaging music that doesn't always put across the emotion it should to resonate strongly. A cover of R.E.M.'s classic "It's the End of the World as We Know It" might be the angriest thing here, although the insistence to get the lyrics right is slightly annoying because it robs the song of the enthusiastic desperation that Michael Stipe brought to the original. Overall, this is a pretty average effort that shows a lot of promise, but ultimately sinks under its own safe approach. The Riddlin' Kids have the right idea, but this is not the album where they put it across.

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