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Critically Ashamed

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 Aug
Critically Ashamed
Sounds like … a mix of sugary feel-good rock and power pop reminiscent of Weezer, All Star United, Dashboard Confessional, Everclear, and Third Eye Blind, with the familiar pop-punk flavor of Stellar Kart and Hawk NelsonAt a glance … for their sophomore effort, Thousand Foot Krutch's side project intentionally tries to make a purely fun summer rock record, but bad rhymes and irritating hooks yield nothing but clichéd and derivative fluffTrack Listing Hope the Rock Show Goes Good Flop Culture The Next Big Thing America's Next Freak Tonight The Video Store Girl of the Year A Nice Piece of Art What It Feels Like Waste of Time Moment of Truth

FM Static debuted in 2003 as a side project by Thousand Foot Krutch vocalist/guitarist Trevor McNevan and drummer Steve Augustine. As a frivolous pop-punk effort geared for teens, What Are You Waiting For ended up selling surprisingly well, so it was only a matter of time before a follow-up. The band felt no pressure to make Critically Ashamed anything more than a feel-good summer record. Too bad they didn't try harder.

Clearly influenced by the sugary rock of Weezer and Third Eye Blind, though not far off from the pop-punk of Stellar Kart and Hawk Nelson, FM Static sounds more like an amateur teen band here. The difference between this album's self-production and the guidance from Aaron Sprinkle on the last album is night and day, confusing fluff with fun and mistaking whiny repetition for genuine melodic hooks. Radio single "Waste of Time" may well be the catchiest (and most spiritual) track, but forcibly so with McNevan's monotonous vocal leaps, and both "Tonight" and "Moment of Truth" sound like parodies of Dashboard Confessional.

The lyrics are especially grating, and though the shift from depth to frivolity is intentional, FM Static seems content to substitute a shallow barrage of pop culture and '80s references (sure to be lost on the intended audience) in place of wit for songs like "America's Next Freak," "The Next Big Thing," and "Flop Culture." Most tracks rely on horribly rhymed nonsense that's neither cute nor clever, like the ridiculously corny "The Video Store" ("I fall apart 'cause you've got a late charge on my heart/If it's all right with you, we'll meet in the previously viewed") and, egad, "A Nice Piece of Art" ("You make me feel like a lavender sweater when I'm caught in bad weather in my Volkswagen Jetta").

The lesson? Fun summer albums still require effort. Stick with Hawk Nelson's Smile, It's the End of the World and Stellar Kart's We Can't Stand Sitting Down. The apt title is the best thing about this one.

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