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At what point does something straightforward turn into something gratingly predictable? That’s the question raised by Typefighter’s debut LP, The End of Everything, a good but unremarkable collection of power-pop songs that employ all of the necessary tropes of the genre: rollicking drums, shouty choruses, hummable guitar riffs, and the occasional synth flourish. Its 37 minutes will go by in a jiffy, but its color-inside-the-lines methodology gets frustrating, fast.
It’s partially a function of the record’s lack of spontaneity. Nearly every song on The End of Everything—particularly the Delta Spirit stomp of “You When You’re Older,” and the grunge-leaning “Bad Cop”—contains half-written verses that build up to a euphoric, fist-pumping chorus, a move straight out of the Pixies’ “loud-quiet-loud” playbook. But songs like “Caribou” and “Gigantic” work because the verses are strong and tightly constructed, even as standalone sequences. On The End of Everything, the songs’ verses don’t serve much of a purpose beyond suggesting and eventually leading into the fundamental hook, which undermines any element of surprise the chorus might bring.
While the band’s brevity is admirable, some of the record’s best moments could benefit from a bit more fleshing out. For instance, the killer chord change on “Split Intent” only happens twice, even though it’d hit just as hard a third or fourth time. And folk-punk opener “Nancy Sinatra” might be catchier than any track on the whole album, but it takes up less than two minutes of real estate.
It’s a pleasant surprise, then, that the longest cut on The End of Everything—the moody, slow-burning “Sides”—turns out to be the best track here. Unlike the rest of the concise, boiled-down tracks on the record, “Sides” gets to stretch its sleepy-eyed, ’90s-era emo legs over the course of six languid minutes.
But on an album that plays it safe way too often, “Sides” registers more as an experiment gone horribly right than as a mission statement for the band. It’s a grown-up, Spencer Krug-esque jam in a sea of minor garage-pop nuggets—the only truly surprising moment on all of The End of Everything. “I’ve never felt so comfortable,” howls singer Ryan McLaughlin, riding atop the song’s rigid percussion shuffle. Maybe he’s onto something.