Canadian GraffitiSelf Released
By Cole Faulkner
Canadian pop-punkers The Riptides released one of my favourite albums back in 2009, Tales From Planet Earth. A smart little Ramones-inspired pop-rocker playing to the theme of science fiction classics, the album drew inspiration from The Lillingtons for a memorable career highlight. So how do you follow-up such an defining work? Apparently you don’t. Instead you wait eight years, release a few splits and EPs to stay active, and then discretely return to the basics. The Ontario quintet follow with their long awaited full length, Canadian Graffiti.
An album that opens to the unforgiving sound of flatulence, the band makes clear that Canadian Graffiti doesn’t take itself seriously or offer any grand pursuit beyond hosting college party keggers. Generally, the album’s eighteen songs come in two sizes; fast, aggressively played bursts of energy hovering around a minute or so, and more involved chorus-heavy earworms. For instance, the minute and a half opener “Couldn’t Care Less” frames the album in a we’ll-do-as-we-please-because-we-can attitude which fits the first-album-in-eight-years mentality. Other amusing examples of these quick-and-dirty bursts include the Nerf Herder style nerd-punk of “Get Out of My Dreams, Get into My Tardis” (revisited in greater length in “Beam me Up”) and the sloppy punk of “Wimpy Goes To Washington.”
The increasingly involved songs adhere to a more conventional verse-chorus-verse structure dominated by Andy Vandal’s gruff poppy vocals and the band’s classic take on three chord pop-punk circa Teenage Bottlerocket. “Goodbye Hawaii” ushers in a fresh feelgood vibe by injecting elements of surf culture and doo-wop that is echoed more directly several songs later with the very 50’s leaning “Fast Girls.” Others like “Homing Missile” and “Happily Ever After” land with a more combative punch. The longer the song, the more opportunity for The Riptides to realize the potential of their powerful backing vocal harmonies. From sweeping “woah-oah” chorus lines to delegating entire chorus lines to the backup section, centrepiece songs swell until they border on anthemic. Take “Manchurian Candidate,” which captures the band’s thematic and musical potential as they recollect the classic novel/film much in the same vein of high points lifted from Tales From Planet Earth. Only a minority of songs (“Babybottle” jumps to mind) are a tad juvenile in scope, and lack the same quick wit and slick penmanship as their more entertaining counterparts.
Overall, Canadian Graffiti is an easy going pop-punk album that brings the The Riptides back to basics. A fun-loving feel runs through the album, bringing together the at times disparate array of themes, tempos, and styles. While the album’s track-listing bloat could stand to be slimmed down, that may have meant trimming some of the album’s funnier moments, in which case the band leaves that dilemma for listeners to adjust on their own playlists. An easy choice for pop-punk enthusiasts.