Imagine sitting in the classroom of a college class you don’t need. Maybe you’re an English Lit. major, and this class happens to be linear algebra. It’s boring and holds no purpose in your career path. You’re slouching in your chair, watching the professor speak at you in a mathematical language that you tune out because, Hey, why try to learn what you won’t figure out anyway, right? And while tuning him out, you’re looking at him, but you go off into a daydream. And before you know it, class is over, and you’ve been staring at your professor for 45 minutes without retaining a damn thing and have no clue where the time went or what was said.
That, my friend, is 1208’s Turn of the Screw in a nutshell.
I sat in front of my CD player while the album was playing, expecting to come up with some witty comparisons to other bands or at least an entertaining description of some sort. But as I sat and listened, I slowly tuned out the album while fooling myself into thinking I was actually listening. It truly is that forgettable.
This disappoints me, because when I first sat down to listen, I thought Turn of the Screw had started the album on a fairly solid note with opener “My Loss.” Here’s the thing, though: the first thought to come to mind was, Sum 41. It sounds like Sum 41. How utterly confusing! A band whose lead singer is the nephew of Greg Ginn, a Black Flag co-founder, and Raymond Pettibon, early punk’s go-to cover artist, has no semblance of the punk rock individuality you’d hope for. Worse, it mostly resembles one of the many high school-friendly bands that’ve kept pop punk alive into the 21st century.
The second track, “Fall Apart,” opens with and maintains the audible appearance of “Days of the Phoenix” by AFI, and the third track, “Tell Me Again,” sounds like Sum 41 in a slightly calm, serious form. Their hyped single, “Next Big Thing,” not only bears a strong resemblance to every other song on the album, but its lyrics are inspirational in an 8 Mile sort of way.
Why does this record make me sad? I was initially giddy with excitement at the thought of getting to hear it for the first time. But once I had finally listened to the whole thing, I felt nothing but disenchantment. Is this what punk rock has resorted to — nothing but rip-offs of already-mediocre bands?
While 1208 might be quite fun to see live at a very small venue, there is nothing that sets them apart from a good portion of the generic “punk” bands already filling today’s airwaves. Sure, this particular album is tolerable, much more palatable than many albums out there. And yes, some of the songs on it are fairly solid. The problem is that it’s easy to sound solid when you’re ripping off bands that are already successful. What I find funny is that 1208 has been around for nine years, preceding the group they most sound like, and yet I can’t help but have trouble comparing them to older and better punk influences.
In an interview on behalf of 1208, frontman Alex Flynn claimed, “We play because it is what we love to do,” and that “we intend to put our all into our music until it’s over.” While I respect any band that performs purely for the love of music, a lifetime of quality band membership seems like a high expectation. For this reason, I hope 1208 eventually creates an album that can be reviewed sans the comparison to linear algebra. Speaking of which, after several listens, I still can’t focus on the remaining 10 songs well enough to review them. My apologies.