Geez, aren't you supposed to lighten up as you get older?
Love Me Destroyer is the new incarnation of Pinhead Circus, the much-loved outfit that spent ten years belting out its brand of catchy, heartfelt punk rock. But where Pinhead Circus once cast a youthful, almost happy-go-lucky glow on its anguish and anger, Love Me Destroyer has completely given in to the Dark Side.
Or so the band would have you believe. Granted, the final Pinhead Circus studio album was called Black Power of Romance, and Black Heart Affair is an even deeper leap into the void of empty love and vacant lives. On the song "Crusher," throats like open graves chant the lines "Today is dead/Tomorrow's next/Will the sun ever stop coming up?" The end of "My Virus" isn't much cheerier: "No heart/No heart/To feel the pain I cause." The rest of the tracks are infested with images of brawls, knives, scars and nooses. But even wading hip-deep through miasmas of turmoil and misery, Love Me Destroyer just can't break free of the tried-and-true pop formula. Every scream is land-mined with melody; every riff spits hooks like shrapnel. Which is a good thing -- honestly, too much of a deviance from the old Pinhead Circus sound would have seemed a bit contrived. Instead, the boys decided to bash pop punk over the head with a blunt instrument and let its gray stuff leak all over the floor -- though not before cannibalizing the corpse a little bit.
As they slip into their thirties, it'll be interesting to see how much further these guys venture into the darker corners of their souls, kicking over rocks and watching all the worms and insects and demons wriggle around in the soil. It'll also be interesting to see how much of their tuneful, sinewy songwriting physique they'll manage to keep intact. This is, after all, only the first Love Me Destroyer release, and we all know that the truly great bands have a tendency to get better -- not to mention bitter -- with age.