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Dirty Tactics

It Is What It Is

(Say-10; US: 25 May 2010; UK: 25 May 2010)

Pop-punk is back, again

At its best, the Dirty Tactics’ form of pop-punk transcends the genre’s limited arsenal of crashing rhythms, whiny-snarling lyrics and bad-boy subject matter (free-floating, misunderstood misanthropy). “Baltimore” introduces a wavering farfisa line that sounds like it’s wandered in from another record; a similar keyboard sound crops up in the slower number “Side of the Road”, which also manages to use teen angst to good effect. “La Cancion to Los Andes” and “Mi Chozita” both make use of Spanish-language, Spanish-guitar intros before bringing the noise.

Ultimately, though, the musicians’ limited chops render the music more of a chore than a joy to listen to. Songs like “When You Wake Up”, “The Process” and “It Is What It Is” rely on simpleminded guitar battery and teen-angsty vocals that sound familiar from a thousand other songs. What’s original here isn’t especially competent; what’s competent isn’t particularly original.


DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.

Tagged as: dirty tactics | pop punk
Tour video for the Dirty Tactics' 2009 Northeastern tour
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