"Trashed Out Paradise" (Filthy Beast Records; 2009)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

There's good pop punk and there's bad pop punk. Good pop punk has a dynamic drive and crackles with real energy. Bad punk pop smoothes out all the rough edges and sounds less like punk and more like generic radio garbage.

You can guess which style I like best.

Luckily, "Trashed Out Paradise" falls into the "good" category. It's good pop punk with a little ska flavor folded in. Unlike other ska bands, however, Synthetic Elements don't just toss in a bunch of brass and call it ska; instead, they seem to take that label to heart and do their best to lean toward ska without overdoing it. The result is an album that's got some bounce to it without sounding forced. Imagine a lighter, brighter Clash and you get an idea.

The songs are, for the most part, fast-paced and peppy. "Falling Away" is an acoustic ballad type thingy and seems out of place at Track 4; it would have fit better at the end of the CD. And the band's cover of the classic "Wooly Bully" would have been better used as a MySpace exclusive or something. It's a fun track but stands out here like a sore thumb here.

The band should also be commended on the depth of their lyrics, squeezing in smart observations and genuine emotion where you might not expect it.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2009 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Sep 2022 13:46:22 -0400.