Modern pop punk doesn’t have to be a dirty set of words when it rocks as much as Gatorface’s debut album does. Wasted Monuments kicks off unassumingly enough with a brief midtempo instrumental before launching into a maelstrom of bracing-and-buzzing power chord riffs that never lets up for the rest of the record’s brief running time. The production never forsakes clarity for toughness, while vocalist Alex Goldfarb—formerly of New Mexican Disaster Squad, along with drummer Richard Minino—sings with enough grit in his vocals to get away with bellowing ultra-hooky melodies that would sound lightweight coming from your average fresh-faced mall punks. Standard pop punk compositional tics do crop up more than is welcome for a relatively new band trying to make a name in a genre plagued interchangeability. Yet every time I begin to doubt myself about the album’s merits, the Orlando quartet hits back with an inexhaustible fervor and cuts, like “Receivers” and “Burning Crosses”, that are fitted with enough adrenaline-pumping twists to grab my ear. Somewhere, I imagine hard-edged pop punk pioneers Bad Religion and the Descendants nodding in approval at Gatorface’s quickly-proven aptitude for completely rocking people’s faces off.
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