The members of D.C. quartet Mess Up the Mess gleefully revel in their ability to synthesize three key components of their approach, combining a decidedly punk rock aesthetic with a lyrical attitude that falls somewhere on the spectrum between sassy and biting and punctuating it all with keyboard sounds which nod to the influence of ‘80s rock and new wave bands. The group employs several clever lyrical takes, dropping a new kind of “F-Bomb” (feminism) on a track of the same name, using personality profiles to kiss off unwanted suitors on “You’re Not My (Myers-Briggs) Type” and earning points for asking the all-important question, “What would Steven Morrissey say?” on “Morrissey Already Ate.” Unfortunately, most of the accompanying music is trite, lacking the presence of enough melodic or rhythmic punch to accentuate the band’s opinionated outlook. Additionally, much of the material comes off sounding under prepared and shabbily edited. While it wouldn’t be fair to expect a shiny, polished record (this is a punk album by a band named Mess Up the Mess after all), the band’s playful style might actually have been strengthened by revisiting specific sections, especially the less than satisfying vocal turns on “Espirit de l’Escalier” and “20 Questions”. Mess Up The Mess sound like a band whose charm would win followers in a live setting; unfortunately that energy just doesn’t translate to this disc.
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