Listen Up: Wednesday, August 24, 2005
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A WilheLm Scream

Ruiner (Nitro Records)

By Justin Press

Like NOFX and Pennywise — and roller blading — A WilheLm Scream is roughly 10 years behind the times, and unless it’s 1995, the final nail in WilheLm’s coffin has already been hammered.

See, in punk, 10 years is a veritable eternity. Anyone remember No Use For A Name? Unwritten Law? Pretty much any other band from a few years ago on Fat Wreck Chords? As the Ramones, New York Dolls, the Clash, Circle Jerks, and even early Blondie have a sort of timeless quality, stuff like Ruiner is perfectly polished, perfectly produced, perfectly disposable pop-punk, like what the offspring of people who once saw the New York Dolls onstage at CBGB’s believe is “real” punk.

WilheLm (strike one for weak band name) tries desperately to inject some life into its one-trick pony by employing vocal harmonies and intricate guitar parts. Yet the end result is less Beach Boys-meets-Van Halen and more annoying “bro-core.” Most of the songs are about high-school chicks, boredom, and backstabbing — the lifeblood of pop-punk — and nearly every word is sung in that atonal nasal style that’s become as much a part of pop-punk’s essence as black mascara and Hot Topic t-shirts.

The even bigger and more troublesome problem, however, is that WilheLm equates speed with substance. The disc kicks off with “The King is Dead,” a blast that beats out of the gate like Secretariat on crack, and the frenetic pace doesn’t let up until about the fifth or sixth track — at which point, if you’re still paying attention, you’ve lost most of your brain cells.

Almost as infuriating are the band’s requisite attempts at humor. Not only are they uniformly frivolous, they’re often referential, drawing their strength not from originality but from the size of the dropped name. If the music’s good, a smart listener can probably digest a song entitled “Me vs. Morrissey in the Pretentiousness Contest (the Ladder Match).” If the music isn’t, nothing seems more insulting.


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