Album Review: Mixtapes - 'Even On The Worst Nights'

29 June 2012 | 12:45 am | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

The kind of record you'll keep on constant rotation in your car.

Since forming in 2010, Ohio pop punk band Mixtapes has been the perfect cure for a shitty day. It’s hard to revel in angst when joint vocalists Ryan Rockwell and Maura Weaver are buoyantly singing about everyday annoyances and self-discovery, backed by similarly cheerful melodies. If that’s how you like your Mixtapes, you won’t be disappointed by their latest release, Even On The Worst Nights. While this is technically their second full-length record, it seems more accurate to credit it as their first, with 2010’s Maps only running for eighteen minutes. "We like to think that means we left out all the unnecessary parts", the band says, which in itself is a good summary of how it feels listening to any Mixtapes record, Even On The Worst Nights included.

Even On The Worst Nights begins with low-key fifty-second intro Seven Mile, leading straight into archetypal pop punk track Something Better, showing Mixtapes at their finest. The honest lyrics complement its catchy tone impeccably, with Rockwell and Weaver singing, "We sat outside talking about music and movies we hate, cause there’s not much left to like". As Something Better illustrates, their lyrics are commonly quite basic, but this is one of Mixtapes’ most endearing qualities. It’s not often a band is seemingly content to produce hooky, up-tempo music, without feeling the need to subscribe to endless metaphors in their songwriting. Golden Sometimes is a rarity on the record, and an undeniable high point. Musically, the track is stripped down, incorporating acoustic guitar and sprinklings of piano. Slightly more introspective and melancholy than we’ve come to expect, it asks, "Have you ever cried because you felt you were supposed to?"

Vocally, Rockwell and Weaver are a flawless pair. One of the greatest aspects of Even On The Worst Nights, and Mixtapes in general, is the way their vocals blend in perfect synchronisation on each song. Both voices are distinguishable – Rockwell possessing classic pop punk characteristics, and Weaver with her uniquely unfeminine tone – but the interchange between solos and harmonies is clever and seamless, notably on Just When You Thought It Was Over.

In keeping with a vast majority of pop punk records, Even On The Worst Nights is not life-changing, nor does it try to be. There are clear highlights in You Must Not Be From Around Here and Something Better, and of course some lowlights, like the somewhat strained Russian House DJ. However, the minor inadequacies aren’t important, as what makes this album so gratifying is the overall vibe it projects. It’s virtually impossible to dislike Mixtapes, a band that continues to release fun records, while retaining a genuinely charming innocence. You’ll get the most pleasure from Even On The Worst Nights by accepting it on face value, as a joyous, honest collection of descants with accessible lyrics.

1. Seven Mile
2. Something Better
3. Hey Ma PT. 2
4. Even On The Worst Nights
5. You Must Not Be From Around Here
6. You & I
7. I'm Wearing the Device (Bridge, Water)
8. I'll Give You A Hint, Yes
 9. Russian House DJ
10. Anyways
11. Indian Summer
12. One for the Ozarks
13. Just When You Thought It Was Over
14. Golden Sometimes
15. Basement Manners
16. Mt. Hope