Mest

Mest

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For its third Maverick release, Chicago's Mest has jettisoned the sugary pop experimentation of Destination Unknown, dulled the ska influences of its early career, and fully embraced tarted-up tweener punk. Produced, mixed, and engineered by Goldfinger frontman and Mest mentor John Feldmann, the eponymous effort packs every possible punk-pop cliché into its 13 tracks, and often sounds like a facsimile of Feldmann's own band during its heyday. Like its compatriots in Good Charlotte (whose Benji Madden guests here), Mest blends energetic Green Day-style power chording with the processed vocals, synth programming, and overwrought string sections that typify corporatized pop in 2003 (and that's pop in any radio-friendly format). While "Until I Met You," "Night Alone," and "2000 Miles" are, for the most part, pogo-friendly trad punk updates, they're about as believable as a mohawk in a boy band. The squiggling electronics and swelling violins of "Jaded (These Years)" and "Chance of a Lifetime"'s acoustic melodrama suggest Mest might now be using punk rock only as artifice. Because when each chord, every word, and all the micro-managed, glossy dynamics of an album reek of artful commercialization, it's hard to find what's real about the band behind the music. Mest might offer a few stage-diving moments for the kids, but it will only keep until the next big thing hits.

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