Four albums into their career, the Copyrights seem to have set up a pattern. Albums one and three, We Didn't Come Here to Die and Make Sound, were bright, speedy pop-punk in the grand Screeching Weasel tradition, while album two, Mutiny Pop, was a shade harder in edge and darker in tone. The same can be said for Learn the Hard Way, which also introduces just a hint of old-school hardcore in the abbreviated song lengths: nearly half of the 14 songs are in the 90 seconds or less range, with one, "Solid Connex," getting its point across in half a minute. Aside from that welcome brevity, cranky songs like "Shit's Fucked" and "Headaches," and a newly roughened vocal tone from lead singer Adam Fletcher throughout, most notably on the hoarse "Pulse Check," further move Learn the Hard Way away from the generally sunny tone of 2007's Make Sound. However, this is still the Copyrights, so the band's heart remains in crisp, melodic pop-punk delivered with hooky riffs and spunky energy, even on darker-hued material like the somewhat desperate "Switchblades" which, rather than exploding into the expected transcendent fist-pumping final chorus after an atypically long instrumental break, instead builds the tension further with a repeated call and response refrain before cutting off with a dead stop. In this context, a giddy love song like "She Turns It Up" sounds even more welcome than it might otherwise be.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason