First of all, I’d like to point out the fact that Strike Anywhere toured Australia not too long ago, and I of course, only got into them a matter of weeks following said tour. Good times. Anyway, ‘Exit English’ is the follow-up to their quite amazing ‘Change Is a Sound’, and it sees a release with the sort of hype you would anticipate when a band is expected to match a potentially classic album. Not surprisingly though, rather than sticking with a proven formula, Strike Anywhere have taken a chance and altered their sound to a less erratic, and more structured form of melodic hardcore.
Of course, one of the main factors in Strike Anywhere’s rising popularity is their awareness of political and social issues shown through their lyrics, and ‘Exit English’ continues the benchmark they had already set. You don’t necessarily have to agree with the lyrical content, but you should appreciate the fact that they have chosen to address relevant issues, rather than subside into the teenage break-up tedium that so many other bands have adopted in recent times. The lyrics also allow for an anthemic quality to many of the songs, particularly the sing-along choruses of tracks such as ‘To The World’, ‘Infrared’ and ‘Blaze’. It’s an increased liking to pop melodies that has given them the ability to engrave their songs in the head of the listener, as opposed to grinding it in with blown-out aggression.
That’s my major quarrel with Strike Anywhere’s new direction. ‘Exit English’ is better than most punk albums that you’re likely to hear this year, but it just doesn’t have the same belligerence that ‘Change Is a Sound’ had, and apart from the excellent pop-elements, is simply an inferior album. Still, if I hadn’t already experienced their previous work, my opinion of ‘Exit English’ would definitely improve, as that’s where most of my skepticism stems from.
Despite my own disappointment, ‘Exit English’ is a top punk album. It has enough melody to hook in the pop-punk crowd, and enough integrity and heaviness to lure in punk purists and the hardcore crowd. The main reason why I wouldn’t label this as a must-have punk album is that your money would be better spent on ‘Change Is a Sound’. Regardless, you’ll still find your money’s worth in this album.
Rating: 6.7 out of 10.