...And We Drive
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2003 1 Sep
Since the release of their 2001 debut,
Is it the same band with a new singer and songwriter? Not quite. Though still firmly rooted in melodic punk rock, Side Walk Slam has lost some of their edge and lyrical insight on
There's high school reminiscence ("Carmi Times"), romantic homesickness ("When I'm Gone"), and plenty of breakup songs ("Back to You," "Say Goodbye"). Curtis rebukes someone for being selfish and unapologetic in "One of a Kind," and another for spreading lies and betraying friendship in "Behind My Back." "Letting Go" could be a follow-up to either: "Love will find us once again/I'll finally understand why/Love always takes time/A lesson I hope you'll find/In time you'll say goodbye." Living life and taking chances is the theme behind "Time Will Pass You By," while "All Nighter" recounts Curtis finding peace and perspective during a late night drive.
Side Walk Slam distinguishes themselves most in the spiritually themed songs. The title track is about moving forward beyond our sinful past: "So learn from your mistakes/Yeah, sure, catchy phrase/How could I take your grace for granted?/Will I ever learn anything?" In "Stand Alone," Curtis uses his faith to resist peer pressure and do what's right: "I'll take the straight and narrow path/I'll take that path and try to never look back/With my eyes fixed straight ahead/I'll press forward and go where I'm led." The album closes with "Forever Yours," a song of true love that could be about either earthly romance or a divine relationship: "You see things that no one sees at all/You've always been there when I fall … I'll be yours forevermore."
It's not that Side Walk Slam isn't enjoyable. There's something to be said for a clean-cut punk band that's not obsessed with being overly quirky or aggressive. They're a decent garage rock trio suitable for high school kids who want an alternative to foul-mouthed secular counterparts. However, this album has 12 songs totaling 25 minutes, averaging 2 minutes per track—only "Forever Yours" runs more than 3 minutes. With repetitive sounds and unoriginal lyrics, it's a really easy disc to summarize. As a music critic, I can appreciate the easier workload, but whether you the consumer would want to spend at least $13 on such an album is another matter. With so many better punk rock discs available, this one's for diehards only.