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Secret Weapon

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 Jul
Secret Weapon
Sounds like … the familiar blend of punk rock and power pop offered by bands like Hawk Nelson, Green Day, Relient K, and Good Charlotte, as well as some All Star United and Weezer.At a glance … Secret Weapon is a fun album that offers more of what's made MxPx great over the years, but you can't help wishing that they'd stretch their creative muscle more after all this time.Track Listing Secret Weapon
Shut It Down
Here's to the Life
Top of the Charts
Punk Rawk Celebrity
Chop Shop
You're on Fire
Bass So Low
Sad Sad Song
Never Better Than Now
Biting the Bullet (Is Bad For Business)
Not Nothing
Tightly Wound

Nearly ten years ago, MxPx left Tooth & Nail Records to sign with A&M for a mainstream deal. But they were unable to maintain their rising star, and after A&M folded in 2004, it left the trio's future somewhat uncertain. Some would say punk rock has fallen out of fashion; others feel MxPx has fallen out of punk by favoring pop. Either way, it almost seemed inevitable the band would re-team with Tooth & Nail to try and recapture their glory days.

Sure enough, Secret Weapon does recall old times—a double-edged sword at this point in MxPx's career. Fans looking for more of the same will find it here in a mix of punk rock and power-pop stylings. Those hoping for more from these veterans, however, may be disappointed.

Christian punk by nature gravitates toward simple lyrics and quick references to faith. With just seven of the sixteen songs running over three minutes—none more than four—there's not much profound depth. Still, the rowdy "Chop Shop" will garner mixed reactions, lamenting a gruesome murder while offering little beyond "It's sad … Call the cops."

But spiritual themes obviously fuel "Angels," while "You're on Fire" encourages a friend's road to healing ("Now that you're on fire, you are like the sun/Son"). Better is the rocker "Bass So Low," apparently a subtle metaphor for hearing God's still small voice, and the oh-so-catchy "Sad Sad Song" (featuring John Davis) resembles All Star United while rejecting negative attitudes.

Secret Weapon is fun, no question. The band is an impressively well-oiled machine, and with Aaron Sprinkle back in the producer's chair, the album is true to form. But after fifteen years, you can't help expect better from MxPx. Green Day recently proved capable of significant artistic growth (as well as distinctive hits) with American Idiot, and consider how far Relient K has come in just seven years. These days, MxPx sounds more on par with Hawk Nelson, which is great … until you consider that relatively new Hawk Nelson grew up listening to MxPx as an influence.

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