Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Review: Death in the Park "Death in the Park"

Don't freak out if your kids enthusiastically proclaim that they want to see death in the park - most likely, they just want to go see the pop punk band calling itself Death in the Park. But I guess it wouldn't hurt to clarify that!

From their bio: "Vocalist Andy Jackson's (Hot Rod Circuit, Say Anything, Terrible Things) inspiration came after the 2007 Warped Tour through his friendship with members of the band Paramore. Later, recalling a song from his favorite band as a youth, Archers of Loaf, Jackson, now with guitarist Ronnie Gardner, chose the name, and Death in the Park was born. This punk quartet (complete with Jake Sloan on bass and Aaron Holmes on drums) out of Montgomery, Alabama, brings new light to the familiar genre and is unafraid to take the next step, to stretch themselves musically, even in the face of creative crisis. Regarding their music, Death in the Park hopes to create a real 'crime scene feel, very Dexter meets CSI, and kind of gory.'"

To my eyes, viewing the band's name and disturbing artwork, which would horrify even Stephen King, I was expecting some sort of unmelodious goth rock or speed metal with incomprehensible cookie monster vocals. But to my ears, Death in the Park sounds a lot like My Chemical Romance mixed with Panic at the Disco. The guitars and vocals are muscular, and the lyrics a bit dark at times, but the melodies radiate. Underneath it all, Death in Park has sharp instincts for pop and catchy riffs, making them prime candidates to cross-over multiple genres and rack up a ton of fans across the musical spectrum.

The record is off and running with a powerful rocker called "Pitifully Exposed", which is quickly followed by the first single, "Fallen", which features some of the band's most compelling lyrics and the amazing Hayley Williams (Paramore) on backing vocals. Additional highlights include the driving pop rocker "Move To The Beat", which boasts interesting verses flanking a tastefully crunchy chorus, and a near power pop tune called "Sway". The band slows things down just once with "Oh You Know", but I have mixed feelings as to whether ballads like this mesh well with their musical style. Fortunately "Walk Away" is a straightforward rocker that ends the record on a relatively strong note, washing the ballad taste out of your mouth.

The self-titled debut from Death in the Park will be available digitally on August 24 and in retail outlets on September 14. Don't judge a book by its cover (or who you're gonna love by your lover) - check this one out if you like Paramore, Panic at the Disco, or Fall Out Boy.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 5, 7, 10

Death in the Park on MySpace. Official site.

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