Aug 25, 2016

As I Am from Chicago’s The Mizzerables feels like the musical incarnation of a shitty boyfriend. It reels you in with some low-hanging social awareness, but offers only Peter Pan fantasies, self-righteous defensiveness, arrested development ennui, you’re-crying-but-let’s-talk-about-my-feelings narcissism, equivocation and condescension, femme fatale reductionism, and… I don’t even know, you guys, things got really weird around “Second Hand Lover,” and I didn’t feel safe, so I spent the night at a friend’s house. Adhering to pop punk tradition, women are omnipresent on As I Am, but exist only as dehumanized bodies crammed inside wicker men and set ablaze to appease emotionally stunted gods. Musically, while all twelve tracks show potential, when grouped together, they sound like the product of a band trying to meet their quotas: pop punk, check; folk punk, check; ska punk, check; good time rock’n’roll, check; radio-friendly monster ballad, unfortunately, check. The whole endeavor feels suspiciously self-serving, promising listeners genre-bending and big ideas and compelling human emotion, only to decide it wants to “keep its options open” and navel-gaze. To be frank, I’m reticent to be this critical of it. I almost expect the digipak to look up at me, call me a “crazy bitter bitch” who just doesn’t understand it, and storm out of the room. –Kelley O’Death (Whoa!, [email protected], store.whoarecords.net)