Lonely hearts and lovelorn souls rejoice! The Mr. T Experience, godfathers of the East Bay pop-punk scene, have released Yesterday Rules, their 10th studio album of brainy pop songs for the broken-hearted. Since 1986, MTX has been operating under the mainstream radar while bands of similar ilk (like Green Day) have skyrocketed to superstardom. But with their latest, superbly crafted LP, this underdog Berkeley band should no longer go under-appreciated.
Over the years, MTX has cultivated a devout cult following thanks to the quirky and intelligent songwriting of the band’s frontman and ringleader, Dr. Frank. On Yesterday Rules, MTX almost completely abandons the sound of bouncy, buzz saw guitars (the elementary ingredient of pop-punk music) and have matured into a sound that is more Beach Boys than Black Flag. The album’s standout track, “Fucked Up on Life,” features chimey guitars and a symphonic crescendo; it sounds like a long lost hit by Elvis Costello & the Attractions, not something created by a band born in the bowels of Gilman Street.
While MTX’s songwriting has evolved, loyal fans of the band will not be disappointed to hear that Dr. Frank’s lyrics are just as eccentric and clever as ever. With song titles like “Sorry for Freaking Out on the Phone Last Night,” “Oh, Just Have Some Faith in Me” and “Elizabeth or Fight!”, Dr. Frank has crafted an album chock-full of missives that will find their way onto mix tapes meant to mend flings and relationships gone awry. With Yesterday Rules, MTX has proven to be part of a rare species: punk bands that get better with age. After nearly two decades of making music, it’s time to give this band the credit they deserve, because thanks to the Mr. T Experience, nursing a broken heart has never been so catchy and fun.
[Alex Scordelis is not a lovelorn soul, but he does enjoy eating souls and “doin’ the Voldo.”]