Forget What You Know
Midtown plays smart emo-tinged pop-punk anthems that should settle well with fans of Jimmy Eat World, Finch and Taking Back Sunday. At one point I probably would have also compared them to A New Found Glory, but not so much on their latest outing, which also happens to be their major label debut.
Forget What You Know is a fairly appropriate title for this effort, given that it strives to wipe the slate clean with a solid set of tunes that eclipses everything the band has done in the past. Jumping from an independent label to a major is either the death of a band or their moment to flourish. With Midtown, it seems to be very much the latter. Producer Butch Walker (Marvelous 3) has captured perfectly the energy, passion and rock vibe from the band’s Drive Thru years, and yet he has also managed to push the band to new heights, architecting a mature, polished radio rock gem that should please the band’s existing fan base as well as a whole new audience. Irresistible, sappy choruses and massive guitar hooks are aplenty, and for once the promo material that shipped with the disc is right: Midtown is growing up, leaving behind some of the bubblegum of yesteryear for moodier verses and well-placed piano accents. Personally, I dig the darker, more mature sound showcased here.
Sure, it’s full of some bleak, pretty clichéd lyrics that will catch longtime fans a little off guard (“Don’t you cry for me because I’m already dead”), but they’re sung with such conviction and marry themselves so well to the music that it’s fairly easy to forgive. If you’re a sucker for overlapping gang vocals, you’ll also find plenty to love here. My only major complaint is that the final track, “So Long As We Keep Our Bodies Numb We’re Safe,” could be about 10 minutes shorter. Seriously guys. Aside from that, though, this is one of the most well-rounded, irresistible entries in the pop-punk space this year. No matter what you think of the genre as a whole, Forget What You Know is awfully hard to dislike. Go ahead and try.