Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo (A&M)
by Scott Hefflon
It feels odd (borderline wrong, if you know what I’m saying) to report that a band’s major label debut is actually better (as in harder, punker, just as melodic, less candy corny) than the huge-selling indie album that got ’em signed in the first place. But that’s where Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo works into the big picture. While still not as enjoyable as the dopey (yet charmingly so) cover album called, predictably enough, On the Cover (which, by the way, used an idea I had, a really embarrassing marketing ploy I avoided like picturing my parents fucking, that being to take some cutesy punk geeks, have ’em cover some really great songs really fast, and turn them into a smiling punk version of Menudo, New Kids on the Block, or the Spice Girls – I mean, who knew?), then again, what is? (Don’t answer that.) MxPx still skates the dangerous line of Bracket and, obviously, Green Day as to what’s pop, what’s punk, and what’s uselessly overproduced crap designed to get girls gooey. Luckily, Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo has more hard-hitting, thrashy tunes, not to mention simply having more rock than the usual syrup we’ve come to expect from these “chick magnets.” While they’ve still got the mushy-sounding stuff, not to mention the harmonies that’d make any choir director happy, MxPx returns to the crunching guitar rhythms which provide the foundation of rock, and then adds a vocal melody on top of it. Perhaps I like Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo because my advance copy doesn’t have lyric sheets, so I’m not tempted to read their bad poetry or love/break-up letters we all wrote in high school and burned, baby, burned later in life. And, despite the fact that magazines like Spin were kind enough to say nice things about their stabs at discussing “important issues” and questioning the meaning of it all, if I want to ponder the “progress” made by civilization (and a slew of other thoughts that don’t help pay the bills but make chicks think yer deep and stuff at parties) I’ll read Joseph Campbell or a wide assortment of great, thought-provoking writers, not the lyrics of some barely-20 punkpop band who cram their ponderings into rhyming couplets set to a 4/4 beat. But that’s just me.