Dear John

Pop-punk is hideously embarrassing when done wrong, but delightfully thrilling when spot-on. So what makes SF's Ex-Boyfriends stand and/or rock out? I like to think winners win because they're sincere, energetic, and lack shallow intentions. The eleven-track Dear John is everything you want from a good, solid pop-punk record: emotional, melodic, aggressive, and loud. Backed playfully with Ah-ooos, frontman Colin Daly pleads with an estranged lover on rollicking opener "Him for Me"; "I'm" reveals the trio's softer side, with half-whispered vocals, swift but gentle riffs, and breezy harmonies. Finally, the anthemic "Stop, Drop, Rock 'n' Roll" speeds along like a Ramones song, throws in a heavy metal bassline, and ultimately commands you to Rock out! Rock out!, an easy task when a band like Ex-Boyfriends does it right.

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