Naked Raygun release Single #2
When Naked Raygun was born in 1981, one can only assume the Chicago punks never intended to be releasing records in 2010. Now spanning four decades, the band's career has seen its members change and its sound develop from early hardcore to a more melodic Buzzcocks-styled approach. In that time, they have also seen rampant changes in the music industry around them, leading to the decision to make their first release of new material since 1992 come not on a long-playing CD, but as a series of 7" singles.
The first thing any listener will check for on a reunion record is how has the band held up. Are they living in the past, or do they still have something in the tank? With Single Series #2 it's clear that Naked Raygun still has the mojo to write singalong punk hooks with an integrity that matches up with the rest of their discography.
"Growing Away" starts with distorted surf that somehow bleeds into power pop when Jeff Pezzati takes the mic. While far from a perfect singer, Pezzati knows his limitations and uses inflection and tone masterfully to cover for any lack of range and his forceful delivery is a trademark of the band. His ability to carry syllables over additional measures, fusing the words with the music defines the melodies, essentially using the "whoa-oh" vocal trick but without adding filler words.
Meanwhile, the lyrics reflect in couplets that Pezzati delivers with a tone of mature melancholy--lamenting on the past without actively seeking to change it. "Just for Me" is a repetitive, chuggy pop song with Pezzati shifting his pitch from soft to powerful depending on the tempo. It's built around a verse-chorus-verse and power chords: the simplicity increasing its catchiness to the point of familiarity on first listen.
They may not be the best songs Naked Raygun has ever recorded, but they show the band's intensity and catchiness remains intact, something many reunion releases sorely lack.
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