Toronto punk band Pkew Pkew Pkew have a style of rock that they have honed to the point where the instrumentation and lyrics require no deep thought. It’s the kind of punk that inspires you to kill a two-four with your buds in one night and maybe raise just the right amount of hell.
Their latest effort, Optimal Lifestyles, is simply an evolution of the sound they have come into. It is loaded with aggressive vocals, big drums/bass, and fast punk riffs. From the opening track, “Still Hangin’ out After All These Years”, which has an instrumental break reminiscent of 50’s rock n’ roll, you know you’re in for a wild time. Before going into the rest of the album, it is worth noting that the sax solo on “Point Break”, and the song as a whole, is one of the definite high points.
The band has always been good at telling stories in a short period of time, and on this record, they’ve only gotten better at it. Most notably on lead single “65 Nickels“, and other songs like “Skate 2” and “Mt. Alb”, the concise lyrical storytelling really shines through.
It’s a great song, a simple dose of math, and a one way trip on the TTC; check out “65 Nickels”.
Instrumentally, Pkew 3x keep the fast pace that they’re known for, while implementing some catchier bops. “Drinking Days” and “The Polynesian” see the band aiming for structured numbers that an average rock listener can get behind, as opposed to their usual forays into fast, mosh-worthy parts. “Everything’s the Same”, the slowest song on the album, has a lot of different vibes in its short time span. First it sounds like anthemic pop/rock, but near the end it moves into an almost country feel once the acoustic guitar comes in. It sounds weird on paper, but trust me, it works.
Towards the end of the record, we get back into the band’s normal vibe with tracks like “The Pit”, an important anthem for the fans dancing to the side, and “I Wanna See a Wolf.” This number is the stuff punks fantasize about; it’s quick, fast, blunt, basically any adjective that has been used to describe this genre. This song has it all, and has become a favourite as it accomplishes a lot in it’s minute and a half time frame.
The album closes with “Thirsty and Humble”, which encompasses everything that is good about this album and this brand of punk as a whole. The “I don't have money, let’s drink” mentality, catchy vocal melodies and a ripping guitar solo culminate in the perfect effort to close things off.
It’s hard to really branch out in this style of music without noticeably changing things up, and although Pkew Pkew Pkew haven’t really changed that much, they are improving on what they’ve done to date and coming into their own. Overall, this is a great punk record worth taking the time to go through.
Do you dream when you’re “Passed Out”?
Optimal Lifestyles Track Listing:
01. Still Hangin’ out After All These Years
02. I Don’t Matter at All
03. Point Break
04. Drinking Days
05. 65 Nickels
06. The Polynesian
07. Skate 2
08. Passed Out
09. I’m Not Getting Through to You
10. Mt. Alb
11. The Pit
12. Everything’s the Same
13. I Wanna See a Wolf
14. Adult Party
15. Thirsty and Humble
Run Time: 34:54 Release Date: March 1, 2019 Record Label: Dine Alone Records