Joe Jitsu’s first album is only a year old, and it’s already a classic pop punk disc. Those sugary guitars and thick vocals (or is it the other way around? …No I’ve got it right) made for some awesome listening, yet deep down I knew the originality meter was reading pretty low, as many of the songs echoed (some of the best work of) the Queers, the Mopes, Squirtgun, and other pop punk staples. Here though, we have Joe Jitsu coming into their own, and it’s sounds really good.
The change might be a subtle one, as you’ve still got the dual guitar action and catchy melodies. You’ve also still got the perfectly bright but not-too-slick production and brilliant execution. The only noticeable alteration is more developed, top-notch songwriting rearing its attractive head. You won’t find any dumbed-down 3 chord wonders. Even though every song contains a solo, not one of them is wanky. You won’t find and pushy, overanxious 1.5 minute blasts of snot. What you do get is seven songs putting POP back in the pop punk mix (as some might think the genre originally intended, which is why Joe Jitsu gets tagged with the “traditional” label, putting forth a sound that pre-dates the golden age of Lookout! and Mutant Pop).
Nearly every song is highlight worthy (ok, ok the title track is fabulous), so you’ve got quality to make up for the lack of quantity. They don’t nearly have enough at-bats to qualify (3 releases over the past 4 years) but nonetheless Top 5 Records is batting a thousand.
-Mark Hughson 6/8/05