Monday, November 15, 2010

While they hailed from Glasgow, ’90s pop-punk act Beauty School Dropout could have easily come from the Gilman street scene that was going on around the same time. The vocals have nary a Scottish accent, and the music is very much in keeping with the style popularized by Mr. T Experience and Lookout!-era Green Day. After splitting in 2001, the group reconvened last year to touch up some old tracks, resulting in Palookaville, a sort of rarities/reunion record. The results, however, are sub-Kerplunk.

To be fair, though, there are a lot of things that Beauty School Dropout got right. Frontman Dave Lawrence emphasized harmony way more than the average punk band. While the liner notes swear these guys were a bunch of lazy Scots, they clearly put effort into their delivery. The production isn’t half-bad either. Sure, it could use a little more grit, but generally speaking these songs strike a nice balance between polished pop and, ya know, punk rock.

But there’s a huge gulf between sounding like Green Day and being Green Day, and what ultimately sinks Palookaville is the lyrics. They’re awful. Take for example “Pass the Buck.” In addition to using the phrase incorrectly, it’s just an awful song from a lyrical standpoint. Musically, it’s solid, but building a chorus around the phrase “Why not pass the buck to me” is just stupid.

Palookaville, then, is kind of catchy, but also kind of vapid. It makes for a decent listen or two, but eventually audiences are going to crave something slightly more profound, even if it is still sugary bubblegum pop-punk.

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