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Unwritten Law’s latest better left unwritten

Michele Jeffers | Thursday, March 31, 2005

With the recent release of its sixth album, “Here’s to the Morning,” Unwritten Law’s latest bid upon the public makes one want to lobby for the album to be repealed.Back in the early 1990s, Unwritten Law blossomed forth from the fertile skate-punk garden of San Diego. As one of the forefathers of the pop-punk genre, Unwritten Law helped lead the musical revolution against the boy bands that were tyrannizing TRL viewers across the country.Victory was dearly won in 2002 when the entreated allies, New Found Glory and Jimmy Eat World, saved the musical heyday by pointing their muskets toward their bedazzled well-groomed foes, forcing them to scram. With the immense popularity of the single “Seein’ Red” from the album “Elva,” it was surprising that Unwritten Law did not float as well in the mainstream as its counterparts. The band took time off and released a recording of acoustic tracks from its performance on MTV’s “Music in High Places,” leaving fans hungry for more. However, the band’s latest release may cause some fans to lose their appetite. The album features an array of guitar-heavy, vocally driven songs that ultimately fail to impress. It begins with an awkward electronic introduction, segueing into two rough and tumble songs, “Get Up” and “Celebration Song.” Amid the filler there are a couple songs that will get one’s heel tapping. “Because of You” and “I Like the Way” feature catchy melodies. The single “Save Me” moves more slowly than the rest of the songs, but the song retains extra zest by interspersing a jaunty chorus in between the instrumentally naked verses. Once this song is in one’s head it will stay there whether one likes it or not.”We felt like each of our songs have been written and played really well, but they haven’t been that cohesive as a piece from front to back. This time, we’re really making sure that all the songs are fused together, so it stands as one piece of music, with a really defined sound as well,” lead singer Scott Russo said in an interview on hiponline.com. It is true that earlier albums had a more random and uneven feel, but it really did not matter because the songs were all pretty good. When recording this album, it appears that the band made the assumption that its audience lacks an attention span of more than three minutes because every single song is practically the same. However, Russo prevents total boredom through his rambunctious and punching vocals that tirelessly endures round after round. The album teeters on the verge of making one believe it has meaning, but insufferable lyrics and recycled riffs prevent one from making that mistake. Beyond implying that the men of Unwritten Law skipped class during D.A.R.E., the album’s artwork and lyrics imply a confused, and at times awkwardly obsessive, relationship with drugs.Whether Russo sadly believes he is increasing street credibility or hanging on to a wild youth with these references, or whether he is actually at a point in his life where he wants to feel something more than what numbing chemicals can offer him, remains to be seen. However, listeners will not lose sleep over it because the album does not even have one spoonful to help the songs go down. This review may seem unfairly harsh, but a band with such longevity and history of creative albums should be held to a higher standard. “Here’s to the Morning” is not egregiously bad, but the $15 one would shell out for it would be better spent on a burrito and a couple of sea-monkeys.