Redemption (Kung Fu)
by Tim Den
Man, do I miss good, heartachy pop punk. Remember when, in the mid-’90s, there were countless to chose from who practiced the fine art of mixing aggression and melancholy? Where are those bands today? Nowadays, every time four chords and a fast beat are employed, it’s ruined by whining, hyper attention to fashion, and absolute shit sense of melody. Barely any band left understands how to express power and sensitivity. Thank goodness, then, that Useless ID are doing it better than ever. But then again, they nailed the formula from the get-go, releasing two great records in the past few years to arrive at the excellence of Redemption. This third full-length crosses the songcraft of The Stereo with the emotional strength of recent No Use For A Name tunes, meaning the melodies are interesting, the execution punchy, and the arrangements intelligent. The likes of opener “It’s Alright,” “Dying Love,” and “Deny It” are enough to make me blast the shit out of my car speakers as I cruise around town, unafraid of anyone who points a finger at the near-30 guy who still listens to pop punk. Pop punk this good is easy to defend. Check the blitzkrieg-yet-bittersweet verses of “Suffer For the Fame,” which effortlessly transitions into an inventive instrumental trade-off bridge before hitting the explosive ending. Or how ’bout the nice major chord thrown into the bridge of “Turn Up the Stereo” during the line “miles away from here”? It’s details like these – along with the aforementioned savory vocal melodies – that separate gold and lead.
Okay, so the lyrics don’t break any new ground (girls, girls, girls), but being from Israel also makes a song like “State of Fear” not some armchair political statement. These guys live in a country where life can end at any second, so who can blame them for embracing relationships to the fullest? Besides, with songs this good, you don’t need genius poetry to succeed.
Useless ID are of a dying breed. Praise them for not abandoning what makes pop punk wonderful.