MAX LEVINE ENSEMBLE, THE: Backlash, Baby: LP

I’d seen The Max Levine Ensemble’s name around for seemingly forever, but I have no recollection of ever knowingly listening to them. I had associated the band with Plan-It-X and thought they would be folky pop punk. Well, now I feel as though I’ve maligned The MLE. Within moments of the record’s start, they hit on the Ergs side of pop punk the spectrum, and definitely call to mind the Ergs themselves. Although the band contends they’re biting Paul Simon and Pixies, I still hear Ergs. That said, you’d be hard up to find your typical (or atypical) pop punk songs about girls and love herein. Rather, the lyrics are contemplative, tending to reflect on the inner turmoil that occurs when trying to find a fair way to live in the exterior political and social climate. For sure, positive vibes throughout, despite the struggle presented. Maybe it’s just because I got something I didn’t expect here, but I found Backlash, Baby to be a refreshing take on the genre (save for the upstrokes on “Shadow of Death”). The record also features guest appearances by Jeff Rosenstock and Sheena Ozella. Mine is on pinkish-purple colored vinyl. There’s probably a color that more accurately describes the vinyl’s appearance, but I don’t work for Pantone, so I ain’t knowin’ stuff like that. –Vincent (Rumbletowne / lameorecords.limitedrun.com)