Tuesday, October 20, 2015
MxPx -- The Ever Passing Moment
2000's The Ever Passing Moment marks a change in MxPx's career trajectory. The band achieved nearly unparalleled sales and popularity in the realm of mid-90's punk rock (how many punk bands pre(and post)-blink-182 have a gold record to their name?). Any decent band worth their salt generally grows restless with their trademark sound by their fifth-album (sometimes far sooner), and while some life-less haters may disagree, I certainly think MxPx are worth their salt. Thus, by the time The Ever Passing Moment was recorded, MxPx were apparently ready for change...
BUT I WASN'T!!!
I listened to so much MxPx during the summer of 2000, I wore the CD's down to little thin nub-circles (the reason I wrote this review was so I could use the term "nub-circles"). However, I put off picking up the May-released The Ever Passing Moment for a couple of months because I'd heard it sounded...different. I didn't want different. I wanted that signature fun, blazing-speed, double-barreled MxPx sound that I could drive my car way too fast to, and also make Tony Hawk get like 400-feet of air in the half-pipe to...but then college started.
College is fun, but those three words don't seem very true to a stressed-out, first week freshman. With a new stereo (Alpine!) in my car, though, and unfamiliarity my currency, I finally broke down and purchased The Ever Passing Moment (and Let It Happen, too, but I'll get to that later...er, I already got to that...time is a flat circle).
The rumors were true...The Ever Passing Moment is different.
The Ever Passing Moment isn't much of a punk rock album. If anything, it's a high-energy rock album with a small handful of punk-sounding songs. When opening track, "My Life Story" first blasted out of my speakers, it didn't blast as fast as I wanted it to. Jerry Finn's bright-sounding production contrasts sharply with Steve Kravac's harder-edged, yet clear production from MxPx's two albums most-previous to this one. Those two albums, Life in General and Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo, respectively, are bonafide classics, and the three instruments (bass, guitar, drums) are very distinct in the mix.Though The Ever Passing Moment is not quite a classic, and the instruments blend together far more in the mix than those last two, with repeat listens, and expectations of punk-rock bliss dismantled, it turns out to be something pretty special. Unfortunately for me as a reviewer, the reasons for this are a bit intangible.
In the spirit of punk-rock brevity that has inhabited all of these MxPx reviews, I'll try to make them tangible...briefly.
1. Though, outside of "Educated Guess" and half of "Buidlings Tumble," these songs aren't very fast, they are (outside of "Two Whole Years," which was, up to that point, my least favorite MxPx song of all time (later eclipsed vastly))well-written (unlike this paragraph). The music is good, the hooks, a Finn specialty, are good, and the quality doesn't decrease the more the music hits your ears.
2. This is probably MxPx's most "mature" album. At the time of The Ever Passing Moment's recording, singer/lyricist/bassist Mike Herrara was at that mid-20's sweet-spot where you realize you don't know everything, yet aren't completely cynical about the world around you...like I am...right now. Mike's musings have always been pretty simple, but at their peak, they are simple in the best sense of the word. What I mean by that is, it's generally good to have a friend who, when you are stressed out, says, "Hey, dude, don't worry, it'll be fine." I'm not saying these are necessarily the most wonderful lyrics of Herrera's career, but there's a certain consistency in his rationale that is extremely comforting. Following Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo's footsteps, The Ever Passing Moment also features a more introspective second half. The album-closing four features two sincere love songs, followed by two somber songs that give the general idea of, "Hey, I'm not the greatest guy in the world, I have some problems, and I'm working on them." "It's Undeniable" in particular features some of the last explicitly religious MxPx lyrics ever, with the verse "The first step that I needed to take was giving God control/that's a struggle for me every day, and I'm letting you all know." The line is at once intimate and awkward, but in the context of the song and album, it works. The album-closing line, "What else can I say/I let the past get to me," is also surprisingly dark for a collection of songs that, to this point, are the poppiest, most major-key sounding of the band's career. This gives The Ever Passing Moment a feeling of movement and progression, and perhaps adds more to its staying power, also almost keeping it in the league of the last two albums. It might not reach the heights of those two, but in 2000, it kept up the MxPx glory days just a little while longer. It also helped give a worried 18-year old making a big transition a nice boost on the old morning and afternoon drives, and today brings back some dear memories of that time.
So much for brevity...
and good writing.
1. My Life Story 2:44
2. Buildings Tumble 2:45
3. Responsibility 2:40
4. Two Whole Years 2:43
5. Prove it to the World 2:34
6. Educated Guess 1:46
7. Is the Answer in the Question? 2:10
8. The Next Big Thing 2:26
9. Foolish 2:53
10. One Step Closer to Life 3:10
11. Unsaid 3:00
12. Here With Me 2:12
13. Without You 2:37
14. It's Undeniable 2:47
15. Misplaced Memories 3:35