Lucky Boys Confusion

How to Get Out Alive

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Even though past efforts have largely incorporated elements of ska, reggae, and hip-hop into the punk concoction that is Chicago's Lucky Boys Confusion, the How to Get Out Alive EP is a relatively straightforward pop-punk affair. Lucky Boys Confusion absolutely still sound like themselves; there's just more of a focus on the rousing rock backbone that has often propelled their songs. The music remains catchy -- what else would one really expect? -- but in the absence of those distinctive quirks, multiple spins are required this time around to really separate the five songs out. Even so, "The Struggle (Getting Out Alive)" quickly stakes claim as classicist Lucky Boys, while "Cigarettes" benefits from a fun guitar hook, even if its chorus seems slightly disposable at first. Overall, the self-released EP just has a more weathered feel; this is probably related, at least somewhat, to the Elektra-induced headaches following the release of 2003's Commitment. The EP's title is most assuredly taking jabs at that situation, which ultimately left the Boys without a label. This feeling continues into the album itself, in songs such as "When Bad News Gets Worse" and "Like Rats from a Sinking Ship." The latter song, in particular, drives on an ominous urgency as Stubhy Pandav spews forth lyrics like "New York City/You weren't good to me/Your faith in me was insincere." However, dark resentment suits the guys. After all, their cover of "Anything, Anything (I'll Give You)" rocks convincingly due to the band's overly exasperated attitude -- and it plays as much more defiantly bitter than Dramarama presumably ever intended the song to be. Sections of the EP are at times uncomfortable and sticky -- there are way too many midsong dropoffs into rousing gang choruses, for instance -- almost as if the band is still trying to navigate the murky waters of post-major-label life. But the music at least still sounds inspired, hinting that Lucky Boys Confusion may be down, but they're definitely not yet out.

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