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The Mighty Mighty Bosstones 

Pay Attention (Island)

Ten reasons why the Mighty Mighty Boss-tones are mighty mighty boring:

1. Any ska made after, say, 1983 just doesn't matter. And most ska made by white kids, particularly American white kids, just misses the point. A few of the interracial bands from England's 2-Tone revival of the late '70s/early '80s got it right: the English Beat, the Specials. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones don't.

2. Their music sounds like a suburban recipe of punk, pop, and ska, and somehow manages to fail in each department. Without mastering one ingredient, they sully the entire dish.

3. The Bosstones' latest album runs 51 minutes. No matter what category you want to toss them into -- ska, punk, or pop -- none warrants a maximum running time of more than 45 minutes. These are wham-bam genres; anything longer is overstaying the visit.

4. All the group's biggest hits sound exactly alike. Just try to separate the differences among "Someday I Suppose," "The Impression That I Get," and "The Rascal King."

5. The Bosstones formula -- Dicky Barrett's raspy growl over a horn-fueled skate-punk rhythm -- works overtime on Pay Attention . . . just as it has for the past 10 years.

6. Barrett's self-esteem-deficient torture act often collides with the fratboy attitude his band celebrates. He may kick himself in the morning for his previous night's actions, but that isn't gonna stop him from acting the same way next time the opportunity arises.

7. The album's best song, "So Sad to Say," sounds awfully familiar . . . (See number 4.)

8. Despite turning up the amps and cranking out more punk pop than usual on Pay Attention, the Bosstones can't crack the protective shell that surrounds them. Time and time again, they fall back on all the old crutches, like the high-school-band horns that pop up in each and every song.

9. Pay Attention's sole ballad, "The Day He Didn't Die," while a welcome change of pace, shows up at the very end, closing the album on a somber note. Bummer finish, guys.

10. They're just really, really boring.

More by Michael Gallucci


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