It's been just over three years since we have heard from the boys of MxPx, and their new record Before Everything And After is well worth the wait. This time around, the boys get a little help from some friends. Benji Madden of Good Charlotte, Jordan pundik of A New Found Glory, and Kris Roe from The Ataris all help out on just a few back up vocals. Actually, it's so few that I didn't even know that there were guest of the record until I read about it online. Also, this time around MxPx brings the listener a much more pop/rock vibe -- even more so then on their last record The Ever Passing Moment. In fact, they even bring in some strings and a piano here and there (Oh I can just hear the punk purist now...).
The album opens with "Play It Loud," a sonic energy filled song with lyrics in the spirit of MxPx's classic "Punk Rawk Show." Next, we have "Well Adjusted," and if you saw the diet Pepsi commercial during the last super bowl, chances are you've heard a clip of this well crafted rock song. I think this song has some of Yuri's finest drum work ever. Now we move to "Brokenhearted," and this song is great to sing along with because I think most of us can relate to having our hearts broken. The first single from the album "Everything Sucks [When You're Gone)," like all good MxPx songs, has a lot of change ups that help hold the listener's attention. The biggest step taken on this record comes on "Quit Your Life," an acoustic song with strings, a piano, and some of the most romantic lyrics ever written by Mike Herrera. Another step forward for this band happens on "Kings of Hollywood," as the song opens with a very bluesy bass line and a smooth guitar hook from Tom. Also, this song gives one of the best pictures of living in California I've heard in years both through the music and the lyrics. "The Capitol" fulfills the spiritual side of the project. Sung from God's point of view, it's about how He will always be there for us. For this song Mike sings "When the narrow path is long, I've been with you all along," and "Those that seek will surely find, those that don't are surely blind." Yep, for those of you who've doubted, these guys surely still believe in God. "On The Outs" is a good pop/rock song about a friend who is having trouble getting over a girl, and offers some solid melodies. Next we have the most romantic song of the album "Don't Walk Away," a slow tempo love song with some very sensitive lyrics. The subject of God comes up again on "You Make Me, Me." The song's main focus is a girl but Mike thanks God for his girl and counts his blessings, saying, "Every night I get down on my knees and pray, and thank the Lord above for you each day" Mike also laments, "These days, so few seem to have Faith in the Son of man and in His Grace." The album closes with "You're Not Alone," an energy fill rock song with lots of fun tempo changes.
Like I said before, this album is more pop/rock than punk this time around, but being that MxPx has never made the same album twice that fact should not be all that shocking. If this record has a downfall it's in the lyrics. Some don't seem to be as strong as past works by this always growing punk rock band. Many of the songs are about love but that's not shocking either because all three members are now married and love is a common theme among punk bands. Musically, this is easily some of the best work MxPx has done. With well thought out tempo changes and tasty melodies, this album will make everyone happy. Well, maybe not those more serious punk followers, but the rest of us will leave all smiles.- Review date: 8/27/03, written by Matt Vest
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