Reviews Mean Jeans On Mars

Mean Jeans

On Mars

Whoa, is it 1994 again and someone didn't tell me?

Much in the way Teenage Bottlerocket appropriated the early to mid-‘90s Lookout bands like Screeching Weasel and the Groovie Ghoulies, which were puréeing the Ramones, Beach Boys and macabre cinema, you can't really credit Portland, OR's Mean Jeans for bringing anything new to the pop punk landscape whatsoever. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a single ounce of originality anywhere on this record. And oddly enough, it's just that redolent familiarity that makes it so goddamn gratifying. As much as it may bruise my crust-craving ego to admit, I find On Mars to be overwhelmingly adorable. This is punk rock for skater kids, alternateens, and hopeless romantics raised on frozen pizza and gas station nachos, just as much as it for those fending off adulthood; still lurking around the dim corners of fringe society in worn out Chucks and pinned-up hoodies, swilling tall boys of whatever the cheap beer of the moment is, and hipping “the kids” to the days when Danny Panic, B-Face and Danny Vapid were in The Queers instead of, well, whoever is now.

In the lead-off track “Ready 2 Rip” the question is aptly posed, “Are you ready to rip it up?!” And if you weren’t before, you’d best be ready to answer with a decisive YES, as On Mars beats you over the head (and in the heart) with one sing-a-long after another of quirky, youthful anthems. Whether it is seamless transitions between songs or catchy-as-hell hooks and melodies, Mean Jeans prove they are true masters of their craft. “Hangin’ Tuff”—which might trigger repressed memories of flailing around dingy, beer-soaked basements to “the Riverdale Stomp”—easily morphs into “Crummy Crummy”, via that steady acquainted bass line second handed by every snot-faced kid that ever wanted be a Ramone…or was one. (You know the one: it goes dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun…yep, that one.) And then there is the whole “whoa-ohh-oh, whoa-ohh-oh” chorus thing, which can be found on nearly every song. But perhaps most effectively demonstrated on the title track, “Life on Mars” as well as the obligatory school song, “Forever in Mean Jeans.”

If you can’t tell by the album cover—which shows the band flying towards Mars in a spaceship shaped like a Jägermeister bottle, while little macaroni and cheese noodles float by—humor is a key ingredient in the Mean Jeans recipe. “School Lunch Victim” is an amusing little number in which every school child’s favorite foil-pouched “juice drink” is referenced in the chorus—“My mom forgot to pack my lunch/Am I the only one?/Can I poke a second hole in your Capri-Sun?...Capri Sun!” Comparable to how The Kinks implored us to come dancing, on “Come Toobin’” the Mean Jeans invite us to, ahh, come toobin’…because, you know, it’s only natural. And, well, that’s your frame of reference right there.

With On Mars, Mean Jeans aren’t attempting to drag pop punk kicking and screaming into the future, but rather force a beer bong down it's neck and punch it in the gut with a much needed shot of playful wit and amusement.

8.0 / 10Nathan G. O'Brien
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8.0 / 10

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