I never much fancied being a historian. Their paintings of the past feature drab colors and vigorous attention to detail. I’d much rather add a little neon green here, a white lie over there, a few dabs of embellishment. And I’m willing to bet there are others out in Tubeland that do the same thing, especially when it comes to music. The first release you hear from a band, well, what a magical time. The hooks click, the lyrics have “like so much” weight with our current lives, and we use the “L” word. All of these things describe how I felt about the pop-punk of 2005’s If These Streets Could Talk. Pshh, no way We’re In Like Sin will overtake such a valiant and teenybopper throne!
Here's where I trash We’re in Like Sin. It’s time to throw the (thesaurus) book at Just Surrender. Nope. Not this time. I enjoy We’re in Like Sin for being itself, for not leaping too many steps at once. I’ve seen a fair amount of criticism for this release (and it’s album art), but try as I may to move on, I can’t. The dual vocals and booming choruses I prized a few years ago are back and better. Though not necessarily bigger, and far from innovative, We’re In Like Sin is a worthy follow-up.
Just Surrender might not have another “Tell Me Everything” in them, but opener, “Body Language And Bad Habits,” is a gauge of where the band has been. Catchy and wonderfully angsty, Jason Maffucci and Dan Simons didn’t mess with their biggest selling point. The two trade lyrical passages and finally break bread together in each chorus. Showing a little maturity in the songwriting department, “So Close / So Alive” features a female-backed chorus and dainty bridge. The song punches the listeners’ gut, only to massage their sore belly seconds later.
“I Said It Before” begins much like a song on their previous album (“She Broke My Heart So I Broke His Jaw”), but this new track is more realized and less cheesy. Just Surrender haven’t strayed from their gritty LI influences, rather We’re In Like Sin is a necessary stylistic update. Top of their list was obviously song differentiation, as seen in the punk-pop title track and slightly electronica (complete with a descending, hair-metal guitar solo) “Something That I’m Not.” Other than “I Said It Before,” Just Surrender rarely retrace their steps. The old path is still in sight, but a few detours (uplifting “I’ll Be Here”) give We’re In Like Sin a stand-alone quality.
In the distant future, after removing my bifocals and sweater-vest, I will still be listening to We’re In Like Sin. Doubtful, but the future should be just as optimistic as the past. Whenever I get a little depressed over my (already) receding hairline, Just Surrender might be my musical dose of Zoloft. I can more than handle the side-effects: embarrassing my twins (Alicia and King), damaging my ear canals, and having a darn good time.