Let’s be honest. Ska-punk isn’t the coolest style of music to be into at the moment. With the angular sophistication of the art-pop hipsters providing a stylish aesthetic for the uber-cool ipod gen, all that 2005 offers for our beloved teen-punk infatuation are images of pasty-white kids in shorts and Hawaiian shirts ‘skanking’ to Reel Big Fish or MU330 down the local rock club, a reputation soiled further by the legions of school-aged ska bands that _aren’t _from Long Beach no matter how convincing the accent, and who _can’t _play the trombone or sax, even if they have passed their Grade 3.
Thankfully though, it doesn’t have to be that way.
3dBs Down, along with the likes of Schoolboy Error, reassuringly have the focus and drive to give our home-made efforts some credibility, their self-funded album (released last year) presenting an alarmingly strong paragon of Brit-punk tuneage that belied their relatively young age and marked them out as a band that might actually go somewhere.
So, enter On The Road Records, eager to see what else they’ve got up their sleeves, and Hidden Talent Booking, eager to do what they’ve done to *Howards Alias, No Comply *and the like and turn these inexperienced local boys into nationally-admired, road-weary men. Both have invested a great deal of faith in the band, yet where most industry bods would’ve been keen to polish up their sound to a squeaky clean, sugar-rich smattering of hook-laden pop-punkery, it appears quite the opposite has been afforded to 3dBs Down, _‘Can of Worms’ _delivering a much more rugged, rowdy, accelerated batch of songs that evoke much more of a live feel than any of their earlier output. It’s a frustrating urgency at times, often rushing a song prematurely to its climax rather than letting a chorus shine for itself.
_‘Kidnap and Reason’ _is such a song, galloping at such a ferocious pace it’s almost impossible to sing along unless you’re 14 and have the energy of a squirrel on Red Bull; _‘Say So’ _similarly maintains a coarse, thrashy tenure, thankfully slowing down towards the end to give prominence to those lovely “just stop talking” harmonies, while _‘Salvo’ _just manages to balance their hyperactivity with a catchy sing-along chorus.
Not strictly a ska-punk album then, 'Can of Worms' _constantly see-saws from the Brit-rock brilliance of _‘Sadako Blow up the World’ with some wonderfully sharpened female vocals, to the breezy ska of ‘One More Day’ _(with the quality line, _“Get up stand up take responsibility / your entire life is one big possibility”) back to the aforementioned thrashiness with a contrast that gives this album exceptional staying power.
However the low-key production really lets them down; despite their obvious knack for decent tunes it’s this that tarnishes an otherwise enjoyable release.
7Mat Hocking's Score