MXPX Plans Within Plans is a solid album with seven songs in a tie to be my favorite song. These songs hit me like one-two-three punches because of their placement on the album, the first of the three starting at track seven with Stay On Your Feet, Lucky, then Far Away and the second set of three finishing off the album with When It Comes To You, Inside Out and Nothing’s Gonna Change. Track number one, Aces Up, has also become one of my favorite songs.
During the times when MXPX has been absent, the members have recorded music in side projects. Mike Herrera heads up a country punk band called Tumbledown and the track Stay On Your Feet sounds like an excellent leftover from that project. The song also seems to have that “nineteen fifties styling” of another side project called Arthur. Arthur is a side project that features all the members in MXPX, except with Mike Hererra on guitar instead of bass, and an extra member, the guitar tech for MXPX, playing bass guitar. Arthur differs from MXPX because it takes a sort of nineteen fifties song writing flavor and turns it into modern pop punk. It seems only natural that some of the writing of those projects would carry over to this new MXPX album, and the sound can be heard in the songs The Times, Cast Down My Heart, and Best Of Times.
There’s some notable lead guitar work on the album. The song In The Past has a really cool guitar solo, while the songs Nothing’s Gonna Change, Far Away, and The Times all have cool lead riffs. The song Screw Loose, an oddball punk thrasher with Ramones style tongue in cheek lyrics, has a lead guitar change-up that is nothing monumental, but interesting nonetheless, since most of the MXPX change-ups are filled with vocal melody.
To me, the difference between a breakdown and a change-up is that whenever MXPX, or Mike Hererra, goes into a change-up, no matter what the project, I refer to it as the sweet spot in the song. A point where his vocal melody hits a whole new climax, that extra mile to sing-along satisfaction that always makes me admire Hererra’s melodic skill, that can be found in the change-up of When It Comes To You. Other great change-ups can be found in the songs Cast Down My Heart and Lucky, and the change-up in Nothing’s Gonna Change is woven into the song in such a way that it happens twice like a verse or a chorus. There’s also a semi-change-up in Best Of Times, but it’s really more of a breakdown. The aforementioned breakdowns can be heard in the songs Aces Up and The Times. The single Far Away has what I find myself calling a “trendy” breakdown, but I leave the opinion of whether “trendy” is a good or bad thing to the individual listening since the breakdown in Far Away sounds good in my ears.
The lyrics are pretty straight forward, with the positive numbers full of good advice and examples of where that advice will be useful in life. I would imagine the lyrics are filled with life experience and daily reminders to oneself to keep from going crazy when times are hard, marked by a healthy dose of introspection. There’s also a nostalgic song called Best Of Times, a song about a great girlfriend or wife called Lucky Guy, and two songs about failed relationships : When It Comes To You and Cast Down My Heart. The song In The Past seems to touch upon the idea that things they’ve said in the past tend to come back to haunt them all the time and, although I like to believe that since Hererra sings all of the songs he writes the lyrics, I honestly cannot say that is true and any of the songs could be written by or for any one of the three members or even written collaboratively. So to impose my own ideas as what the songs are about could be misleading but will have to admit that during my analysis of In The Past I was personally sent into a tirade that I will include as a post review rant… because I can.
All in all, the latest album from MXPX is a great sing along album, with lots of twist and turns to keep you interested, provided by top-notch musical delivery. These guys are continuously proving themselves to be skilled veterans in the trade with absolutely no plans of giving up on the band that put them on the map almost two decades ago.
POST REVIEW RANT:
Before I start this rant allow me to first state that MXPX is in no way affiliated with me and has no direct influence on the things I say and can therefore not be held responsible for my ranting which is borderline nonsense. I also would like to state that while I asked for the lyrics to the album to post accurate lyrical quotes I was also asked to not share or post them and will respect this request and leave it to the reader to listen to the song to hear for themselves what led my brain to type the following.
While listening to the song In The Past, I fell into a convulsive state of rant and produced the following : A trend that is quite popular throughout pop culture is the digging up of dirt and scrutiny of unfulfilled promises and conflicting opinions that may have been uttered, and the resulting witch hunt that demands answers for the human sins of contradiction and failure. It’s a robotic journalist technique to stir the pot and get people’s attention and wrangle numbers in this way because it works every time, just look at all the nauseating magazine headlines while buying groceries. The technique works because fanatics invest themselves so much into their pop icons that the journalists’ assaults become personal to the fanatics. A large percentage of these fanatics are self-loather types that are typically the first to destroy an icon after the icon taints the image that the self-loather has been vicariously living in. Overzealous fanatics are never happy with the slightest ripple of change, and I have seen first hand how unforgiving these people can be when the band, celebrity, you name it, they used to love does not live up to the expectations that they have built up in their minds. The attack begins, often on message boards or wherever people can type something rude, in an attempt to disassociate themselves with something they once hailed, after all, it’s quicker to burn the evidence than to invest time and energy in defending the fact that nobody’s perfect, most of these fanatics have never come to grips with that fact in regards to themselves hence the need for a social mask.
Pop Culture, in my opinion, is like a cloud of making and breaking that was created by the people that make money from building up and destroying people. This is entertainment after all, and a once respected profession is now just a cash cow for the milking by every possible economic vulture that can find a teet to tear off and regurgitate back to the masses. A vindictive journalist will use pop culture to steal self loather fanatics by informing them that their pop icon, or trend, is no longer cool and they don’t want be embarrassed so they should follow them to the next big thing. I mean, look at Justin Beiber, the kid has just as many fans that love him as he does fanatics that hate him, the combination of the two create a unified popularity, and, especially in a time when numbers are a credit to what is actually selling, it seems to me like the hate is actually a good thing for him. These same trend-destroying fanatics are the ones that actually do most of the promotion for the things they love… before they hate them that is, I mean.
The thing that really bothers me I guess, is that through this whole process, people are becoming more and more conditioned to this sort of mentality, and it becomes a point of small talk gossip to trash everyone and everything all the time. Can’t we all just worry about ourselves for once? I started this blog with the intention of promoting only the things I love, no bad reviews, to the people that I know personally, my friends and family. The people that I create this blog for, I speak to on a semi daily basis, and the site that I have chosen to do it with does not supply me with numbers of visits or rank my popularity. I can only hope that more people will use their own time and energy to create something that gives back to the entertainers that so deserve our praise and gratitude, instead of subscribing to the slanderous scribbles of jaded get-rich assholes. But I doubt that will happen because there is no money in what I do.