Perhaps a more honest and mature attempt at rock by former Lagwagon frontman Joey Cape, Bad Astronaut is a step up from the repetitious So-Cal punk approach to a universal and eclectic indie rock sound. It’s progression, but it seems as though the roots haven’t been broken.
To say the record is eclectic is perhaps an understatement. Hedy West’s “500 Miles” is presented in a punked-up format, with Cape’s vocals not venturing far from the typical nasally vocals. “Needle in the Hay” is a cleaned up Mudhoney romp, and “Only Good for a Fuck” is just another generic track of bar chords. But not all is lost, as the band throws in organic keyboard fills and wonderfully catchy melodies and choruses. Except for a few instances, the keyboard fills are simply fills and really serve no purpose other than to finish the song with a bang. At times Acrophobe is emo rock at its finest, and drummer Derrick Plourde adds a lot to the songs by playing more stalled and cymbal-drowned beats.
With an obvious reference to The Replacements and homage to Elliot Smith, Bad Astronaut understands the true angst and repression of rock. But the music is too happy and nonconfrontational. For So-Cal punk fans, this is a new but easy pill to swallow. For the rest of the rock fans, it’s redundant and a well-blazed path that’s been traveled many times before.