Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Prozacs - Ambivalence

Ambivalence is the title of the album, but J Prozac is clearly anything but ambivalent about his devotion to pop-punk. Supported by a revolving cast of players, he has kept The Prozacs going strong for now nearly 20 years. The Prozacs were always that band that bridged the gap between pop-punk's Lookout!/Mutant Pop salad days and the genre's recent run of unprecedented glory. In fact, you will now find The Prozacs label mates with the likes of Jagger Holly, Black Russians, and Radio Buzzkills - the best of the best of pop-punk's new generation. Ambivalence is the Prozacs' fifth album - but only their second of this decade. In recent years, Jay has branched out with an absolutely wonderful solo album and other projects like Stiletto Bomb and Doubtfire. Ambivalence finds him channeling some of that artistic growth into The Prozacs brand while still remaining ever faithful to the pop-punk music he so dearly loves.

Ambivalence is the first Prozacs album to feature longtime drummer Jimmy Craig. It would not exist without a great amount of perseverance on the part of J Prozac. This record took nearly a year to record and required the contributions of three different bass players. Yet the band powered through and ultimately produced what is probably its best album in a very long time. Opening cut "Rocking Out" celebrates the pursuit of playing punk rock for the sheer love of it - and it's really a statement about where The Prozacs are at this point. The group sounds energized, fully committed, and more than happy to be standing side by a side with a great new generation of bands it helped to inspire. Then suddenly the band tears into "Outta My Face" - almost certainly the "angriest" sounding Prozacs song I've ever heard. It's the kind of song you can only really pull off with an absolute killer manning the drum kit - and Craig is more than up to the task! Two songs in, and it's firmly established that this will not be one of those pop-punk albums where every song sounds the same. J Prozac, after all of these years in the game, has plenty of tricks up his sleeve. "Party's Over" proves that the Screeching Weasel songwriting formula can still yield fantastic tunes. The deceptively upbeat "Out of Time" is a sing-along anthem for our doomed world. "Wishing & Waiting" is thoughtful, sincere, and a fine example of the kind of song an adult pop-punk musician should aspire to write. "Lost In The Waves" is the latest case of J Prozac knowing how to end a record in style. It's a quasi-instrumental that blends pop-punk and surf in a very unique way. And while many of the songs on Ambivalence rail against the hardships and frustrations we encounter as we try to make it through day-to-day life, this song finds the album circling back to the optimistic note on which it began.

What Ambivalence makes clear is that The Prozacs remain a first-class pop-punk act. And while the word "maturity" is almost always the kiss of death within this genre of music, Jay has proven that pop-punk can grow up and still be really awesome. He worked like hell to get this album just the way he wanted it, and that commitment to a vision really paid off. Ambivalence is right at home on OUTLOUD! Records' star-studded roster!



mickfletcher said...

excellent review, pretty much what i would have said in mine if i could write as well as you

JalaPeƱa said...

Couldn't agree more with this review! I think this is one of the best Prozacs album, and in my view Jay Prozacs' best songwriting effort to date. (Pssst, and insiders tell me he's already writing material for another. The Dude's prolific I tell ya!)