Interrupt This Program (Vegas Records)
By: Alex Steininger
Power-pop with a sugary center, and some pop-punk thrown in, Action League is able to conjure up hooks from out of nowhere. Hailing from Southern California, they may fall under the pop cloud that is inhibiting everything from that region, but they are not your average Southern California pop band.
Creating their own identity, and pushing away the punk formula that usually accompanies the pop coming out of their area, their music is a refreshing sigh in the watered down, over-generated genre. So sweet and melodic, you can choose to sing along, jump around, or just sit back and enjoy it. Very energetic, the underlined softness of the music is what allows you to calmly enjoy it. But, that may not be recommended, because after a few tracks you'll be itchin' to get up and put the music, or better yet, your body, to full use.
"Son of a Gun" starts off with questions, but they soon answer them when the song kicks into full gear. Melody being their first name, and hooks being their last, they focus equal amounts of energy on content and structure. The outcome is a ferociously delicious, irresistible combination of charming guitars, hard hitting drums, and a tangy bass.
"Suckerpunch" shows the pop-punk side of the band, with a keyboard twist, of course. The keyboard tingles throughout the song, adding the extra spark to make everything seem so natural and fun. The guitar rips out power chords in such a hook-filled manner, when it starts chopping your first reaction is to jump out of the way and avoid its inviting call. Eventually you give in, and go right to it. Then you're putty in the song's, or better yet, the band's, hands.
"7 Zark 7" shows the band in a different light. Pushing away from their own pop playground, they enter into the world of dub. Quite different from the rest of the album, it just goes to show you the musical adventures these guys are willing to pursue. Although not their best material, and probably the weakest cut on the disc (the longest too...), it is nice to have a brief interlude from the pop, because even with their clever hooks, the sugary taste does get old after a bid. Avoiding their own holes, they just keep surprising me.
Ending with "If You Were Me," they close out the disc with more pop as only they can do it. It starts off soft, then the amps are turned up, and the true shape the song quickly takes place. The bass makes a strong presence, clarifying every hook, which always drives me wild. Another important factor, the vocals sound sincere and real. That always makes a song. The hooks are plentiful, as always, and the band plays tightly together. A nice close to a nice album.
Action League is quite the band. Capable of this pop gem, it's quite sad that they broke up. Now a second album, which you'll crave after listening to this, will never happen. The only solution is to listen to this album over and over again, remembering them for what they were...a genuine pop act. I'll give this CD an A.