The Phase Problem – The Power of Positive Thinking (Brassneck Records / Lava Socks Records 2024)

The Phase Problem are something of a collaboration or meeting of minds between various luminaries of the pop punk scene, both in the UK and the US, over the past 35 years or so. This is their second LP, titled ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’, and follows their debut self-titled LP, which came out through Brassneck Records and Mom’s Basement Records. The lineup features Flav Giorgini (Squirtgun), John Bonnar (Paws), Alex Keane (The Murderburgers / City Mouse). I ought to mention that the list of current and former bands here is by no means exhaustive, but should serve at least as a touch-point.

I’d throw it out there that this is a bit more than a run-of-the-mill straight-up pop punk record. Sure, there’s a definite flavour of the Ramones underscoring it. I suppose a bunch of it draws more from the ever-broadening stable of Ramones influenced bands. There’s a bunch of sci-fi / horror themed numbers on here such as opener ‘Flying Saucer UFO’ and ‘Demon Girl’ that seems to bridge the gap between the Groove Ghoulies and Lillingtons. I can think of a bunch of people that would get a kick out of that particular aspect. In fact, check this sick claymation video…

There’s something unshakeable that I can’t quite put my finger on. Something that elicits a mental comparison to Hot Snakes. I’m kinda picking up on that tightly wound, relentless mechanically locked in groove to the rhythm section. It’s undeniably cool. ‘Fork in the Road’ being one example of where this seems particularly prevalent.

I thought that ‘1982 (Better in the Light)’ sounds a bit like TSOL writing a modern rock song or something in collaboration with Teen Idols. So yeah, there’s a whole bunch going on. Not to mention direct references to and plays on Ramones classics (‘Middle Aged Lobotomy‘), which I got a real kick out of.

I’ve been thinking that the vocal reminds me somewhat of a weird hybrid of Ben Weasel and the dude from Red City Radio (whose name I can’t remember or be bothered to look up). This particularly struck me on ‘Denouement’.  Throughout the record there’s a real penchant for hair rock style  guitar solos and lead guitar breaks (that first Skid Row LP is a very guilty pleasure, OK?!!), and I was both surprised and amused when I heard a Status Quo-esque riff underpinning one song.

But yeah, there’s a whole bunch of variety on this record, without straying too far from the core sound. Yeah a bunch of people are gonna get a real kick outta this one. It’s not something I would see myself getting bored of anytime soon, put it that way. And that’s where real value for money comes into play.

Tony of Nurgle rating: 9/10

The record is out now, and you can pick it up from Brassneck Records in the UK/EU or Lava Socks in the US on transparent red with white and yellow splatter.

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