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July 22, 2024

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Maxeen (Side One Dummy)

By: Vinnie Apicella

The self-titled debut from the Californian Pop trio makes great strides towards regaining the legitimacy of the music that's lain bare for so long in favor of stylistic multiplicity and quick strike gold diggers. It's evident early on that Maxeen, in spite of their less than hip moniker, learned their lessons well in advance of tuning an instrument.

While the bulk of the material reaches into typically Emo-terrain with fond farewells and tearful laments, seriously inclined moments like the opening, "Please" or "Strangers," rant defiantly against abandoned youth and the music business, as "White Flag" and "Take The Weight Off" address the pressures of adolescent to adult life in unsettling "what-if" scenarios. The songs are clearly defined and deftly delivered, reminiscent of an early '80s hybrid of styles that saw Pop, New Wave, and Post-Modernism meld together and effectively canonize groups like U2 and The Police, either of which are influential on equal footing here, from the suggestive guitar harmonics, progressive drum fills, or twin-toned vocal attributes of singer Tom Bailey, tuneful and terse. And then there are moments of singularity where the closest consideration to previously established platforms might be the harder edged moments where Bailey's vocals emulate a Steven Tyler, spring-fresh and frenetic -- "Shuffle My Feet," "Take The Weight Off," "Getaway," where polish goes tarnish and a punky-upsurge presents its dirty nails before the final chords fade.

Maxeen is impressively charismatic, slightly daring, well balanced between modernity and retro, energetic and emotive without collapsing under the weight of its own despair. A look back, a step forward, and one of the highlight new releases rolling into the New Year.

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