The succinct way of reviewing this record is to say that if you liked The Copyrights before, there is no reason not to get this.
The more wordy and drawn out way of reviewing this is this: If we’re going to talk about pop punk, one of the bands that has to be mentioned is The Copyrights. Being from Illinois, I have a bias. I have managed to see The Copyrights more times than I can count. Probably more times than I have seen any other band (except maybe The Lawrence Arms?).
There are a lot of pop punk bands in the world. Some are great, some are terrible. But, none of them are like The Copyrights. They are a band that punk rock fans in Chicago can look at as our own (despite them being from Carbondale [which, if you don’t know Illinois, is nowhere near Chicago]). Sure, for pop punk, we had Screeching Weasel. But, they were at their best (in my opinion, their first reformation from 1991-1994) while I was in elementary school. The Copyrights started putting out records in 2003. That was the year I got out of high school. Their second full length came out in 2006. And, with that, they served as a soundtrack to my early 20s. It was just the right time.
So, North Sentinel Island is the first full length from The Copyrights since 2008. And, you know, it is pretty fucking great. Basically, it is building on the template that the band has been fucking around with since Mutiny Pop. Every song is deliberate and forceful. The songs avoid the trap that a lot of pop punk falls in. The trap is, of course, reheated Ramones riffs. Yeah, things stay pretty simple, but the use of real (re: not power) chords expands the sound. Nothing on this record would sound out of place on any of their previous records. Well, except maybe the riff on “Hard-Wired,” which are more than a little Blink-182ish and the acoustic closing of “Bow Down.” Overall though, it is exactly what you would want (and expect) from the band.
If Learn The Hard Way was a record that expressed a certain level of frustration, North Sentinel Island is the opposite. It is optimistic, but still cynical.
“Expatriate Blues” is great at describing how people get about their home towns once they leave:
“I’m not home sick, I’m sick of home.
Now I know when I’m back home I’ll just be visiting.
Now I know that my return won’t be for long.
When I’m gone this bedroom town just keeps on sleeping.
The same sleep every year just like when I was here.
I hate it with a smile, I miss it with a sneer.”
“Worn Out Passport” is one of the best songs. It maintains the theme of just living life the best you can. and I can’t refuse a song that has lyrics like:
“And I want my body filled with more alcohol than blood.
Don’t take this as self destructive, because this wish is filled with love.”
Other than all that, this is just a fun record. It has some of the best sing alongs I have heard in a while. Yes, it can maybe get repetitive, lyrically. Yes, it sounds a lot like everything this band has done before. But, it is far from stale. People often mistake simplicity for laziness or stupidity. Fuck those people. Sometimes, the simple stuff says the most.