It's been at least a week since we reviewed a great release from a Canadian punk band so it's probably time again. This time we're reviewing Surprise! from Ontario based three piece Mystery Weekend. The band mixes together pop punk and metal music to create their own unique and exciting sound. This is going to be a fun one.
Album opener, Theodore, slowly fades in with a melody that gets harder and faster as it goes on, before Rody Walker's theatrical vocal style comes into play. Naturally the first thing I think of is AFI but I'm also somewhat reminded of the UK's own Creeper. This song really shows off Walkers exceptional vocal range and gets Surprise! off to a big start. The Obscenity Prayer is one of the best pop punk songs I've heard in years. Walker's voice is again at its theatrical best (I feel like that might be a theme to this album) as he takes us on a series of highs and lows throughout the song. The track is about feeling insecure and trying to find ways to improve yourself. The lyrics in the song are superb - stand outs including "An Apology Can't Effect The Past, But It Can Effect The Future And The Future's Coming Fast" and "And I'm Talking Shit, 'Cause Lately I've Been Fucking Feeling Old Hat, 'Cause There's A Million People Better Than Me At The Only Thing I'm Good At." The third song on Mystery is titled Broke, Old and Tired. It's at this point of the album that I really discovered what I love about Surprise! - that is that it is packed with a lot of lyrics but the whole time it's accessible for singing along. I've often found that with songs that include a lot of words it's hard to sing-a-long with every single one. The guitar work on Broke, Old and Tired really helps with the pacing of the song and adds a whole load of energy to the more up-tempo sections of the song.
Up next is a song named Don't Blame The Kids. Don't Blame The Kids is a song about the blame that the young people get for the decline in record sales due to downloads when really it was the greed from the music industry that made music too expensive for people to afford. It's one of the shorter songs on Surprise! and focuses less on the theatrics and more on getting their angry point across. This anger comes across the most at the end of the song when the line "Fuck The Entire Fucking Music Industry!" Up next is a song that really reminded me of My Chemical Romance's cover of Desolation Row by Bob Dylan, the song is named Nostalgia Is For Birds. It starts with more of a mid-tempo pace with some fantastic pounding drums courtesy of Mike Ieradi. When the band get to the chorus, the songs jumps into life with a huge sing-a-long section. The song is about different generation's tastes and how older people will say that things aren't as good as they used to be, with the example of TV shows being used. Mystery Weekend make the point that today's youth TV isn't aimed at the youths of 20 years ago. A very valid point. This song is da bomb. Everyone's A Liar starts out with a fantastic rock 'n' roll guitar solo. As the song progresses it morphs into more of a 80s metal sound whilst keeping its pop punk catchiness. Everyone's A Liar is definitely the sort of song that really allows Mystery Weekend to show off their musical prowess.
Barfly sees the band go down the hardcore route. It's just fifty four seconds in length but packs an immense amount of punch. It is about feeling at home in a dive bar rather than spend time with upper class, stuck up people. I think any punk rocker reading this will relate to that. I really enjoyed this side of Mystery Weekend's sound - it's a fantastic change of pace that really gives the album a fresh sound. The penultimate song on Surprise! is Mission Statement. Mission Statement is one of my favourites on the album. It's about Mystery Weekend's philosophy for their band. The philosophy is about how they don't care about doing it the "right" way, they want to be a band the way that they want to be no matter what other people might think. Something every band should do. This is quite a powerful song and something Mystery Weekend are clearly very passionate about. There plenty of fantastic lyrics demonstrating this philosophy including "Not Everything Has To Be Perfect, Not Everything Has To Be Right," "It's Not What We Wanted, You'll Have To Do It Again, You'll Have To Do It Again, You'll Have To Do It Again" and "I'm Just Trying To Carve Out A Place Where I Belong." Surprise! finishes with the acoustic track, Super-Death. This track is about how not all songs have to be about tragedy and it's good to have happy, positive love songs. The acoustic style of the track, I must admit, did catch me a bit off guard as I expected the album to finish with a great big flourish rather than a soft acoustic song. But I guess that there was no other place to place the song, as if it was in the middle it might affect the flow of the songs. This was a nice positive way to finish a fine album.
Surprise! is a fantastic album that was a bit of a revelation for me. Mystery Weekend really came out of nowhere to release one of the best albums of the year so far. Despite taking influences from different bands, that I've mentioned above, they have managed to stick to their mission statement and sound exactly how they want to sound.
Stream and download Surprise! here: https://mysteryweekend.bandcamp.com/releases
Like Mystery Weekend here: https://www.facebook.com/mysteryweekendband/
This review was written by Colin Clark.