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MxPx - Let It Happen Review

by Andrew Phelan

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I think it's safe to say that the days of gritty recordings and crunchy guitars are in the past for the boys, well, men of MxPx. They're not teenagers anymore. No more empty backyard shows, no more high school, no more girlfriends. They're all 30-years old, married, and have been a steady force in punk rock for almost 15 years. But with time comes maturity, and with maturity comes an often difficult reality for fans to handle when it comes to their favorite bands: a change in sound. But for MxPx fans, change is something they have to deal with every time these guys release an album.

Slowly Going the Way of the Buffalo was the last album in which a distinct MxPx sound can be heard. Each subsequent album sounded like they were trying to redefine themselves and their sound, and they fell just short of "mediocre" each time. When I first purchased Life in General, I couldn't get that disc out of player. I still throw it in every once in a while, sing along with fond memories, and remember where I was when I first heard these songs of my youth. I can't say that I have ever done that with The Everpassing Moment or Before Everything and After . . .ever. Nor will I. . .ever. If you only owned Life in General and Let it Happen, that would be sufficient (though Teenage Politics holds a very special place in my heart).

First released in the fall of 1998, Let It Happen was packed with 32 tracks of B-sides, demos, and covers. It had everything that defined MxPx: fast, punching drums, more power chords than you can imagine, low quality recording, and Mike mumbling and slurring all the lyrics. But that's OK, we loved them in spite of it all. That was there sound. And what I love about this album is that no matter how many smelly logs these guys pinch out onto record store shelves for us to buy, I can always fall back on this album and everything before 1998.

It really is too bad though that they had to go and add new stuff to the reissue ("Role Remodeling", "Prozac", "Your Turn"). And in doing so, they took off the original last six songs, and added three different ones. That's not what I call an equal trade off. So instead of getting to hear demo versions of classics like "Move to Bremerton," "Southbound," and "Chick Magnet," you get to hear new songs that I would describe as "tolerable." Why'd they have to go and mess up a perfectly good 32 track lineup?

At least we get a DVD right? Interestingly enough, if you watch all the music videos back to back, you'll be able to see the exact moment when MxPx actually got what the industry calls "a budget." Not only that, but foreign things like "concepts" and "stories" begin to evolve. You're not going to see anymore videos of these guys walking around town and skateboarding. In the later videos you'll see props, sets, movie-like production values, and George Wendt.

Sometimes it makes me sad to think that it's been nearly a decade since these guys released anything noteworthy. But then again, it also gives me hope to think maybe, just maybe, someday MxPx will actually release a breathtaking, inspired, groundbreaking album. They do have an album coming out this summer, but if the best they can do are more songs about Mike being crazy, maybe 2007 isn't their year either. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go listen to Teenage Politics and have a beer.


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