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Brace Yourself for the Mediocre

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2004 1 Sep
Brace Yourself for the Mediocre
Sounds like … Five Iron Frenzy without the horns; silly and witty melodic punk rock akin to Relient K, Hawk Nelson, The Cars, and MxPxAt a glance … the songs are rocking, melodic, and witty like Five Iron, but the overall sound isn't as varied or unique as the beloved band once wasTrack ListingHello LamewadsYou're with StupidAmplifyVendettaRed Eye to MiamiQuicksilver1985Say SayonaraHow Your Halo FellDay of PigsFirefliesYou're Still the OneIn Excelsis Deo

In late 2003, thousands of disappointed-yet-grateful fans bid a fond farewell to much beloved ska-rock band Five Iron Frenzy. Since the occasion also quietly closed the door on FIF's side project Brave Saint Saturn, it left many wondering if they would ever hear the knockout vocals and witty songwriting of Reese Roper again. All is not lost now that the new five-piece band Roper has risen from the ashes.

On their debut Brace Yourself for the Mediocre, Roper (the band) in essence sounds like Five Iron sans horns with some '80s synthesizer thrown in. This is the same kind of melodic punk/garage rock heard from MxPx, Relient K, and Hawk Nelson, not to mention The Cars. What sets it apart is Roper (the man) and his gift for melody and lyricism. The songs are fast and fun without resorting to the most common punk clichés. "Hello Lamewads" sarcastically lambastes apathy and mediocrity, and "You're with Stupid" cleverly chastises a virtuous girl for dating the wrong guy. "Vendetta" demonstrates to ridiculous extremes that you're never too old to feel young or fall in love. There's also a silly punk cover of Shania Twain's mega-hit "You're Still the One" that feels like Weird Al Yankovic.

Faith-based subjects are present but scarce. Lead single "Amplify" challenges us to live our lives "loudly" proclaiming Jesus is Lord, and "How Your Halo Fell" comforts a broken heart with the love of Christ. Brace Yourself ends with "In Excelsis Deo," continuing the Five Iron tradition of closing worshipfully.

The key ingredients are here to satisfy fans of the genre and of FIF, yet there's the sense that Roper (the man and the band) has settled on too conventional a sound. Not to suggest that the album title is a warning, but the music lacks the variety and hooks that once made FIF so fun and unique.