Patent Pending has been around since 2001; and it shows. The fun loving Mount Sinai, New York pop-punk band channels the same energetic pop spasticity of those at the peak of the genre’s radio popularity like Bowling For Soup and Sum 41 back in 2003 (keep that year in mind for later). Either there was something in the water back then or I was just young and naïve, because we all lapped it up without question. While material from Bowling For Soup and Sum 41 has aged reasonably well in large part due to nostalgia, digging up some of the lesser known bands that flew under the radar but emulated that trendy sound of the moment reveals a somewhat different picture.
For instance, time has been less kind to those like Head Automatica whose peak albums like Propaganda now feel more like a caricature of the genre. The same can be said of Patent Pending’s latest Armageddon EP, but instead of having the cover of time to hide behind, the disc just comes off obnoxious and oozing with excess in the present.
One of the biggest turn offs has to be how much of a big shot Joe Ragosta comes across. It’s obviously all part of an act and said in jest – but that doesn’t stop his overbearing attitude from souring the whole experience. The snarky attitude feels reminiscent of Good Charlotte when they started developing a ‘mightier-than-thou’ attitude circa The Chronicles of Life and Death. Ragosta sings lyric after lyric of airhead choruses with statements that feel like they’re actively lowing your intelligence just listening to them. “Mommy’s little maniac is causing daddy’s heart attack, Sally paints the ceiling black she’s learned to curl her toes,” rattles Ragosta against an equally excessive chorus born of hand claps and overdone backing vocals. The band pulls out pretty much every production trick in the book. In fact, the band lathers on the gloss on so heavily that such a blindingly shiny coat completely distracts from any element that may have been manageable on its own in songs like “Tick Tick Boom.”
But all of that pales in comparison with the outright indigestible audio garbage that is “We’re Getting Weird.” The hip-hop infused, auto tuned embarrassment plays out like a failed attempt at satire that feels so random and off the wall that it works against its central message of fully embracing one’s wacky individualism. “New Jurassic Park? Oh sure, what could go wrong, we could tame velociraptors they could sing in the song, *snarl*… J-E-F-F Goldbloom,” rambles the crew, following up with a statement that “we’re getting weird.” The humour is so inaccessibly basic and bottom of the barrel that it makes MC Lars’ pop culture references look like modern poetry.
Only “Brighter” offers a ray of hope in Armageddon’s musical mess of a rat’s nest. The track still suffers from the sonic challenges of its brethren, but with a more relaxed mood and inspirational intent that can be summed up in the line, “there’s a thin line between hoping and believing.” This is the type of song that could make a strong single for Patent Pending. It’s nothing you haven’t heard before on the radio, but feels infinitely more genuine and sustainable.
If you haven’t guessed yet, Patent Pending are living in some sort of time warp in which myspace is still fresh and Good Charlotte still dominate the airwaves. If that sounds like a reality for you, then by all means, pop your collar, dawn a trucker hat and crank Armageddon in your first generation Toyota Matrix because you’re among friends. For the rest of us, learn from hindsight and move along.