Last October I came back to MxPx, as I detailed in this post about how the lyrics for Friday Tonight led me to finally watch Friday. Over the past half year I would return to their self-titled album on Spotify. (I don’t subscribe to Spofity, but I do use the free tier to discover new artists) Eventually I decided to go ahead and buy the Deluxe version of the album directly from MxPx. It doesn’t appear they’re selling the CD anywhere else (at least it’s not on Amazon).
For the most part, I found the music on the album to sound pretty similar to Teenage Politics, Life in General, and the harder punk songs on Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo, The Ever Passing Moment, and Before Everything & After (although I hadn’t heard this album last yet at the time). Interestingly, back in 2013, I wrote about relistening to my older MxPx albums. While I did focus on age allowing for appreciation of a slower, less aggressive sound – I think the genesis of that blog post was the (potential) silliness of going back to kiddie lyrics as an adult. Now, much closer to 40 than I was then, I think it probably is even more of a truth. But, I think I was perhaps too harsh on the idea of hard rock itself. It’s just that, up to that moment, a lot of that style of rock hadn’t grown up yet. Most of the bands were hardly older than me and they were also writing towards what they hoped was a more lucrative audience.
But now we’re all older and I believe the members of MxPx are about 5-7 or so years older than I am. So this album contains lyrics tackling more mature topics. Oh sure, there’s still Rolling Strong which can truly be best appreciated by other musicians. But songs like Let’s Ride, Life Goals, Pipe Dreams, and Moments Like This (especially Moments like This) definitely come from an older songwriter and resonate a lot with me as an older guy and a parent. And YET this is a hard rocking album. This is an album I love to put on while driving and just jamming on the highway. If the wife and I were driving around as much as we used to do before the pandemic, I’d love to get her addicted to some of these songs to jam out with me like we used to do with Anberlin.
Let’s look at each track individually:
- Rolling Strong – Just like Play It Loud on Before Everything & After, a song about being a band; this time about touring with hints of “don’t discount us because we’re getting old.”
- All of It – Basically, a punk rock love song. The title comes from the chorus, “how much of your love do you think I need? All of it”. Most of the lyrics involve the singer talking about how he’s going to make the relationship a great one.
- Friday Tonight – As I mentioned above, the song that got me interested in MxPx again. Definitely a rousing song to play at concerts, especially if they happen to be taking place on a Friday. The opening music is way calmer than the rest and a cause for a somewhat jarring move into the proper song. The lyrics are kind of nonsense, especially compared to the rest of the album. I mean, each verse has a coherent thought, but the song as a whole doesn’t really come together in any real way. Or rather, it’s basically poetic in the same way that sometimes some of the earlier Fall Out Boy songs are poetic; again each verse stringing together logically even if the whole doesn’t cohere as easily as a typical song.
- Let’s Ride – a biographical song (or at least that’s the conceit) in which the singer tells his friend and/or partner that they should just experience the joy of driving and leaving things behind. It doesn’t seem to be a “screw the world we’re leaving it all behind” vibe. More like: let’s escape for a while and renew our batteries.
- Uptown Streets – Hard to properly quantify, but I guess it’s a “don’t forget your city areas’ type of song. But I do love the cheekiness of this early verse: “I was truly scared, for the first nine years I ran/ It was a mighty fine day in the USA I bet/ Wrote it on the back of my hand so I wouldn’t forget”
- 20/20 Hindsight – The lyrics are a bit vague, but it seems to be a singer lamenting what they will do once they can no longer be in a band. But can be generalized to anyone who’s losing the ability to do what they love.
- The Way We Do – Essentially a song about MxPx being happy they have the life they have. They reminisce about some past tour pranks and express an overall gratitude that they get to do what they love for a living.
- Life Goals – A somewhat sarcastic song about how life doesn’t always care about the goals you have. Pretty catchy chorus.
- Pipe Dreams – Great symmetry with Life Goals it tells you to “hold onto those pipe dreams”. My favorite line in the song, “hold onto those pipe dreams/If I’m wrong/the worst is already happening”. The music has a happy tone and the lyrics just balance so well against the symmetry of the previous song.
- Disaster – It sounds like it’s going to be a negative song or a sad song of unrequited love, but as best as I can tell, it’s essentially the song’s protagonist saying that the effect the object of his love/desire has on him is to leave him stunned. Basically seems like a hyperbolic statement to say disaster, but the rest of the lyrics seem to suggest things are fine, the protagonist is just SO in love. Also, I love what Herrerra does with the vocals on the lyrics: “I have the best time with you…everlasting”. I know it’s a technique I’ve heard on other punk songs (maybe other MxPx songs? I can’t remember) but I’d love the podcast “Why Do I Love This?” to analyze what it’s doing and why it tickles me so much.
- Moments Like This – This song is the PERFECT ending to this album. It works so well that I’m *almost* disappointed that it goes on for four more songs in the Deluxe version I bought. I like ¾ of the added songs, but I just think this is the perfect closer for an album that is about punk rockers all grown up. They’ve been a band since high school and are now in their 40s and this song just works so well as the end of this album.It’s about savoring life as it happens. Every time I hear the song I want to make sure I spend more time with the family.
- Best Life (Starting from here these are tracks exclusive to the Deluxe edition) – This one almost sounds more like a Aerosmith song or some other non-MxPx band. Also sounds like it could be in a commercial. It’s OK as a drinking song, but it’s my least favorite on this entire album.
- The Band Plays As We All Go Down – referencing a (legend? truth?) about the Titanic, the song seems to oscillate between hope and despair. But a good return to an MxPx sound after the previous track.
- Forget it All – A song about being frustrated and wanting to get it out of your system. A nice, fast beat – could be great for a concert.
- That’s Life – Another track about getting older. Partially about the world changing around you and partially about dreams unachieved. It’s actually not a bad album-ending song, but it’s slightly sadder than Moments Like This. I like Moments Like This a bit better for the last track because it’s slightly more positive. (The next five songs are actually on a second CD if you buy the CD from their merch shop, so I consider them to be a separate acoustic EP)
- Let’s Ride (Acoustic) – this one works well as an acoustic song
- All of It (Acoustic) – this one’s OK acoustically, but I like the original better
- Uptown Streets (Acoustic) – This one ALMOST works better in the acoustic version than in the original version
- Rolling Strong (Acoustic) – I really don’t like this one as an acoustic song at all
- Moments Like This (Acoustic) – this one works equally well in each version