Don't Mean Maybe

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The first album from Don't Mean Maybe hasn't aged particularly well. The band could certainly play their instruments, and the tightly wound blasts of jazzy pop-punk have some sharp riffing and nifty hooks. Bassist John Hawthorne had obviously been listening to the Minutemen, and he lays down some slick jazz runs and fine lead work throughout the album. Unfortunately, just about the time you start to really like an instrumental, somebody starts singing and you remember why you don't play this album very frequently. The songs are bratty frat rock jokes, deliberately arch and obnoxious, the kind of thing most bands would toss into a set for variety. A whole album of this is just too much. The lyrical height of the album is "Happy Beans," a bouncy paean to coffee that is lightweight fun. The nadir, and a contender for the worst track of the decade, is "Citadel," a cretinous, screeching death metal parody that is kinda funny once, but is unfortunately still on the CD every time you play it. Anyone interested in this band should check out Real Good Life, a much better album later the same year.

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