Ah, the memories... I remember my first step into punk when I heard MXPX covering "Summer of '69." I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Since then, I have ditched Christian pop-punk, and so has MXPX on their new LP, Before Everything and After. That may not be a good thing in their case. Several songs on the first half, such as "Play it Loud," stand out with the band's old, faster style. Slower, slurry songs dominate the rest of the album. Ditching Jesus hasn't improved their cheesy lyrics ("All I ever needed was to eat popcorn with you"), or their clich‚d titles ("Brokenhearted" and "Don't Walk Away"). Come on, Michael Bolton writes deeper verses.

Despite having slowed down, MXPX have kept their melodic hooks: the standard verse-chorus structure prevails in every single song. But could you really ask this Bremerton, Washington trio for a complete renovation? They were made to churn out four-chord pop-rock ballads.


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