98 Mute

Class of 98

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98 Mute's second album is a dramatic improvement over the faceless punk-by-numbers of the band's debut, even though it remains hidebound by its genre restrictions. The songwriting is greatly improved, for one thing. The single "Breakdown" is genuinely great, an Offspring-style piece of pop-punk that doesn't stint on the punk half of the equation even though it adds a catchy chorus and a memorable bass-driven riff to the usual shout-along. Producer Fletcher Dragge, as before, keeps things sounding just a little too much like his own band, Pennywise, although that group's funk metal moves are thankfully minimized here in favor of straightforward '80s-style skatepunk. 98 Mute will never win any awards for originality, but compared both to the band's listless debut and the schlocky pop of the likes of blink-182 and Sum 41, Class of 98 is a definite step in the right direction.

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