America's Favorite Pastime

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Hard, fast, sweaty, and less heavy than sleek and slashing, Whippersnapper tears through the songs on America's Favorite Pastime as if they were pop-punk knives. As with the music of forefathers and peers such as NOFX and Offspring, melody ends up winning out over attitude in Whippersnapper's songs. That attitude, anyway, springs from the goofier, irony laced, self-deprecating side of punkdom, the skate-punk side, which makes the band much more fun to listen to than most punk bands. The musical attack is never as messy as punk but it is just as relentless; in fact, Whippersnapper might even pass for a less gloomy, hyperspeed Metallica. The guitar lines are straight out of heavy metal but are too accelerated to weigh the music down in portentousness; instead they hurry the songs along with high-spirited, fidgety buoyancy. The guitar playing is clean, sharp, and invigorating, which is exactly what it is meant to be, and really Whippersnapper are just cleancut kids on sugar highs who love to play music fast and loud, and they do so well. America's Favorite Pastime is no garage album, it is not ragged or discordant like punk, and it doesn't have an agenda like hardcore. It is touched by all these styles, but is too well-played and too unselfconcious to pass exactly for any of them. The members form an extremely tight ensemble, and no loose threads are left sticking out. Lyrically Whippersnapper are simply obsessing -- and it seems just as much good-natured observation as it is angst -- about the normal adolescent topics, with specific heightened awareness of females, non-conformity, rule-breaking, and hypocrisy. Surprisingly for such a well-traveled post-punk, post-hardcore style and for all the songs' terseness, the album really grabs your attention with its variation. It is melodically astute enough, and Whippersnapper throw plenty of interesting tempo and dynamic changes into the mix so that there are clearcut, distinct lines around each song. Rarely do they sound hackneyed or grating, and they are never fluid enough to bleed into each other. Each song is hook-ridden and harmony-colored, and each song stands solidly on its own.

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