Before MxPx became the kings of the Christian punk scene, they were just another high energy group of twenty year olds in the crowded punk rock scene. That changed in 1996 when MxPx released their breakout record Life In General. This record would take MxPx out of the independent punk scene and thrust them into the mainstream where they would go on to become one of the most influential pop punk bands in the industry.
The album kicks off with the MxPx classic, "Middlename," about a bad relationship that Mike could walk away from, but doesn't. "My Mom Still Cleans My Room" follows and proves to be another standout track that has a great, if not clichéd, punk chorus that says "You don't know me like you think you do." Another MxPx classic follows in "Do Your Feet Hurt" which is a sweet tongue in cheek track that talks about a girl who believes "...in the one true God above." This is a great high school romance song that is one of the best tracks ever put out by MxPx. The great tracks continue with "Sometimes You Have to Ask Yourself." The song has a great message about being careful to not impose your standards on the people around you. "The Wonder Years" brings up how the lead singer is struggling with the change that time has brought in his life, as he ultimately accepts the change. Even though the subject of how time changes people is a common one in the punk world, it is done with enough energy to still make the song sound fresher then it should.
The song that follows may be the most romantic song that MxPx has ever done, which is why they stuck to the formula of "Move to Bremerton" when they recorded "Quit Your Life" for 2003's Before Everything & After. The fun and catchy "New York to Nowhere" follows and is another great track even though it tackles the tired subject of how lonely it is to be on the road. This song is just another great reminder of how Mike Herrera can take a tired song idea and turn it into something fresh and exciting. Another song about a great girl follows with "Andrea," but it is done with such skill and energy that the listener won't mind the lack of new ideas. The rebel inside of Mike Herrera comes out in the next song cleverly titled "Your Problem My Emergency." The song tells the listener that they aren't going to preach to them, but they are not going to sing about sex either just to prove that they are a real rock band. The MxPx classic "Chick Magnet" follows and is not only the catchiest song that MxPx has ever produced, but it is one of the catchiest punk songs ever written.
Another common punk topic comes up in "Today is in My Way," which is a song about leaving the past in the past and enjoying the good things as they come our way. This song is really helped by strong musicianship all around. The weakest song on the entire record, "Sorry So Sorry," follows and is still above average thanks to MxPx being at their very best on this record. The high energy punk rocker "Doing Time" follows and is about the freedom kids feel after they get out of school. It shows how well Mike knows his audience and is able to relate to them. A unique song follows that is about how the lead singer hopes a girl will find happiness after she brakes up with him in "Correct Me if I'm Wrong." This song demonstrates how MxPx is also one of the most up beat bands as well.
"Christalena" is another song about a girl, but because its a song about a girl who wants nothing to do with the singer, it separates itself from the other songs about girls on this record. "Destroyed By You" delves into how everyone has to look for the good in the bad and learn from their mistakes. While this is another above average song, it's neither unique enough nor filled with enough energy to make it stand among the other stellar tracks on this album. The album ends on a high note with the fun punk rocker "Southbound," which is about the joy of driving down the road with your windows down.
This record represents the best MxPx has yet to offer in their almost two decades of making music. Life in General, while having some common flaws found in most punk rock records, is the best Christian punk record ever produced and one of the best punk records of all-time. The record would go on to give MxPx the fame they have enjoyed by getting the attention of a major record label, and the respect of mainstream audiences. All of the tracks on this record could easily make it on to any punk band's greatest hits collections because they are filled with so much energy, clever lyrics, and great hooks. Even though this record probably won't convert any non punk fans to punk music, anyone that does enjoy punk music should check out this record because it offers the best of what pop punk can offer.JFH Reader Review: Review date: 9/9/09, written by James Chase Lamberth for Jesusfreakhideout.com
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