Wasting Time

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Depending on your age, you might say that MEST sounds like Green Day, or like Black Flag, or like the Clash. But it's really all the same; this is punk rock, with its rapid tempos, simple, guitar-dominated arrangements, and boundless energy, in this case played by a youthful band from Chicago. Notwithstanding that American origin, lead singer Tony Lovato's singing sometimes recalls Billy Bragg, though the real model is Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong. Unlike such predecessors as Bragg and the Clash, however, MEST has no political agenda, and its only real social criticism consists of expressions of romantic frustration. In fact, that's Lovato's primary source of inspiration for his lyrics, but he doesn't seem angry so much as frisky when complaining that various members of the female sex haven't treated him the way he would like. The pace does slow now and then, and the playing can be surprisingly delicate, at least for the introduction of a song (e.g., "Wasting My Time"). But for the most part, this is music to stage-dive into the mosh pit to. MEST certainly isn't coming up with anything new here, but their familiar take on punk rock can be as exhilarating as that of any of their many predecessors. (The album contains a hidden bonus track that begins one minute after the end of the final listed track; it is a roughly played, obscenity-laden, comic number.)

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