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Synthetic Elements: Trashed Out Paradise

Synthetic Elements: Trashed Out Paradise

Punk/Ska/Rock
Rating: 3.5/5.0

Synthetic Elements is a young, yet quite experienced, punk-ska band from Colorado. They have one self-produced full-length disc, 'Standing Still' (2006), and have built a solid reputation and following around the midwest. Their latest release, 'Trashed Out Paradise' is their attempt to capitalize on this skill, experience, and momentum and so prove their musical growth. Though this genre is not my first love, I believe Synthetic Elements has found a successful course, and this disc will delight current their fans and expand their base.

Acknowledging again that the whole punk-ska-rock thing is not my forte nor necessarily on my radar at any time these days, allow me a few observations by way of review. When I think of punk, my find drifts to The Clash, Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, The Ramones, and The Saints among others. This only shows my age and distance from the music. One thing I do remember from those days and those bands is that musically punk rock was an attempt to strip rock music down to its fundamental elements. After this it was measured by its tone, usually anger and protestation, and content, normally a social, economic and political manifesto.

Frankly, if Synthetic Elements is going for any of this, they're hitting the former and missing the latter. The music is powerful and raw as 'How Far,' 'Falling Away,' and 'They'll Never Understand.' Additionally, on 'Dancin' Time,' Synthetic Elements completely nails the ska thing with an awesome bass line and terrific horns.

However, the content appears to have been laundered through, at worst, the navel gazing angst of grunge, both early and post, or at best, the playful, cleverly commercial vibe of Green Day (although they tried their hand at some political and social commentary). As to the first, when Synthetic Elements should sound angry and indignant, they merely sound bitter or ambivalent. In the end, thanks to the second, the band merely comes across more as a fun party rock band with punk and ska elements. In this case, the best song is the reworking of 'Wooly Bully.'

Synthetic Elements has all the skills and experience to bring the best elements of modern post punk and ska to the table. For better or worse, this creates it's own dilemma: the power of the music remains, but the anger and defiance of the past has been replaced with the narcissistic party and pleasure attitude of the present.

In Short

Synthetic Elements has all the skills and experience to bring the best elements of modern post punk and ska to the table. For better or worse, this creates it's own dilemma: the power of the music remains, but the anger and defiance of the past has been replaced with the narcissistic party and pleasure attitude of the present.

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