The Sharp Ease Going Modern

[Soft Spot/olFactory; 2005]

Rating: 2/5

Styles: indie rock, punk pop
Others: The Donnas, Blondie, Luscious Jackson

All right kiddies, it's time for a quiz. After listening to The Sharp Ease's Going Modern, which of these conclusions can be made?

a) It's catchy, yet ordinary
b) The Sharp Ease is just as rocking as Blink 182
c) Nice effort, but falls short
d) All of the above
e) None of the above

I know taking a quiz while weeding through a lengthy CD review is the last thing you, our trusty reader, want to endure, but there is logic behind this test analogy. Much of The Sharp Ease's full-length debut feels like a test. The questions are posed, and the answers are simple enough to bullshit, but will it be enough to get that A+ or will the album be satisfied with a C and contempt to share shelf space with other average releases?

The album follows the regular pattern of using a catchy hook, simple lyrics, and loud guitars. It's got plenty of meat to chew, but no flavor or taste. The disc opens innocently enough with "Advantage;" blasting off with a heavy bass beat and sparse guitar play, the song quickly folds under the pressure to be unique and plunges head first into a nicely packaged punk pop song with nothing extraordinary or redeeming to hold your attention. The lyrics also leave something to be desired: "Have to be bad/ just to prove you can last/ the others always so humble/ about our past." Huh? What? Has Paloma Parfrey been studying lyrics from the Sum 41 School of Punk-Pop? It reads like an eighth grader's rebellious mantra scribbled on the inside of a notebook.

The strength of the album lies within the summertime freedom it inspires, especially in the cold and snow of winter. "From the Dodge" is the epitome of carefree days of summer, riding with the windows down, driving nowhere fast. The problem is that by the time the summer comes around, you'll be bored with Going Modern and the emotion it evoked will have melted away with the snow. You'll be stuck looking down at your test sheet, forced to choose D as your final answer and dreaming of your own summer fun just around the corner. Unless you're stuck repeating this class along with the girls of Sharp Ease in summer school -- what a bummer that'd be.

1. Advantage
2. Life Preservers
3. I Demand
4. Patio Chair
5. From the Dodge
6. Going Modern
7. Manipulation
8. Joan
9. Great White
10. Killing the Rooster
11. Tie Me Over
12. Putting on an Act