Music

The Methadones: Not Economically Viable

Stephen Haag

Like Green Day's sound, but hate Billie Joe's whining? Check out the latest from this squad of hard-working pop-punkers, who know that life is hard.


The Methadones

Not Economically Viable

Label: Thick
US Release Date: 2004-11-16
UK Release Date: 2004-11-01
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

Maybe I'm just projecting here, since my friends and I are all turning 25 this year, but I'll be damned if Not Economically Viable, the third album from pop-punk reliables the Methadones, isn't a great mid-20s crisis (really, "crisis") album. The band knows the territory, too: their last album, 2003's Career Objectives, featured a tune called "Premature Mid-Life Crisis". Led by Dan Schafer (aka Screeching Weasel's Dan Vapid), with bassist Pete Mittler, drummer Mike Soucy, and guitarist Mike Byrne filling out the band (all of whom, it must be noted, are in their 30s), the Methadones are that increasingly rare breed of down-n-dirty punks, guys who are more comfortable in the garage than they are in the mall -- more Green Day than blink-182. They play hard and fast, with no bells or whistles (literal or figurative), and with Not Economically Viable, they've turned in their tightest batch of tunes yet.

But back to the notion of the twentysomething crisis album. I don't know if Schafer's ever held a regular nine-to-five job, but he perfectly paints corporate culture and the ennui that accompanies getting fired from one's first "real world", post-collegiate job (ya know, the one where you learn that life is a bitch) on album opener "Bored of Television": "Yesterday I had a job, but then Andy and the two Bobs / Wanted to speak with me / The department was low in productivity / 'We have some bad news' / 'We've terminated your employment'... / Now I just sit on the couch, laid off like the rest / And I'm bored of television, but I'm always keeping it on".

The press packet accompanying Not Economically Viable claims that the album is loosely based on the Michael Douglas film Falling Down (better late than never, I suppose, for a Falling Down concept album), but the album's not so much based on job dissatisfaction and the Fall of the White Male as it is about the world not going according to plan. Indeed, I quoted the album's lone lyrical mention of a job above. Nothing seems to be going right for Schafer's narrator; song titles like "Mess We Made", "Less Than Zero", and "What Went Wrong" sum up failed expectations.

And, of course, the album's full of "girl problems" -- that's pop-punk's bread and butter, after all. "Annie" is about a troubled girl who "had so many problems that she kept from everyone"; meanwhile, on "Suddenly Cool", Schafer laments a female friend whom he no longer recognizes after she falls in with the hipster crowd: "Dyed your hair black, bought horned rimmed glasses to match / and a whole new circle of friends".

Admittedly, the band is wallowing in pity, and normally, pity and rock music don't always match up well. The Methadones don't find any easy answers to their "growing-up problems" waiting for them at the end of Not Economically Viable, because there aren't any. And, to their credit, Schafer and Co never actually sound pitiful on Not Economically Viable; no whiners they. The album is a dozen high-octane punk songs; the Methadones do one thing and they do it well. At album's end, the band has resigned (for lack of a better term) to keep on keeping on. If the lyrics suggest despair, the breakneck guitar and tight rhythm section point to musical catharsis, music as salvation. Sings Schafer on closer "Straight Up Pop Song", "music means a lot to me". Nobody said being 25 was easy, but if the members of the Methadones can survive, so can the rest of us.

6

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image