Whereas Zebrahead’s previous two efforts were well in line with the poppy, punky, slightly zany sound of bands like Goldfinger and Luckyboys Confusion, MFZB is sullied up with a harder approach, perfect for competing with the spray-on grit of the phenomenonally succesful mall punk subgenre (take a bow, Good Charlotte). From its cover art to its songcraft, Playmate of the Year was goofy and florescent; it even included a third wave ska track. What’s this new noise then? Check the harsh, duochromatic artwork of MFZB. Thrill to its workmanlike rehash of Linkin Park aggression, bolted onto a sped-up punk revivalist chassis and rendered near tuneless by dueling, blaring guitars. Sure, there’s come chant-along moments, and songs nod to accessibility with production trickery that fools the feeble mind into believing there’s actual songcraft involved. But where’s the hip-hop flavor of past records? Zebrahead’s two vocalists have forsaken the definition between them, instead yammering and yelling, angry words tumbling out of their mouths faster than they can strike a pose to sell them. Even if the band’s previous incarnation was as much a pose as their new one, at least there was some fun in that picture. MFZB scratches out the eyes of that poor Playmate on the cover of the last LP with a soiled Brillo pad. Sorry girl, you can’t compete with corporate refocusing and runny male mascara.
MFZB was evidently named after Zebrahead’s thriving fan club, people who’ve waited patiently through three years of sonic tectonics. The giddy excess of Blink-182 has given way to the wink-wink-nod-nod plastic rebellion of Benji Madden and the rest, and here’s a new Zebrahead record to roll right along with the changes. Well, keep on rolling fellas, and take your duped fans with you. Better invest in parrots and peg legs now; sea chanties are going to be all the rage three years from now.