Back With a Vengeance

Can't Stop the Enkindels (Initial Records)

The Enkindels

By Victoria Moon

The boys are back—still wanting to fight, but with a sound of wearied experience that makes their second Can't Stop the Enkindels even more powerful than their first.

Can't Stop the Enkindels finds the band walking a razor-edged line between adolescence and adulthood, between angry angst and newfound responsibilities. And it isn't a tension found only in the lyrics – it's in the music itself. Here is a band that has pulled off the trick of keeping the raw energy of a garage band while smoothing out its rough edges into something eminently radio-worthy.

There are still the party songs, like "Nothing But a Good Time 2.0", but even they seem to hide a darker side, as if sung with cynical acceptance: "I don't care if you want to party/I'll be here anyway," sings lead vocalist Mark Brickey. While the Enkindels seem much less inclined to start fights with their fists, they've grown a very sharp set of lyrical teeth. "Days of the New" is at the same time a teenaged seduction and an indictment of a music industry that prefers quantity over quality. "Life of a Kansas Strip Queen" dares you to make moral assessments over one stripper's life choices, and probably best of all the Enkindels have learned to write a damn good love song. The test of any band is whether they can pull off writing about relationships without sappy rhymes or getting lost in moon-eyed navel-gazing vagueness, and "December By Chance" gives the Enkindels an A-plus in that department.

While Can't Stop the Enkindels will no doubt appeal to the same demographic the band has long appealed to (mostly males, ages 14-18), this is a recording that should attract new adult fans as well. Buzzclip 2000, their previous release, was so titled because the band wanted a video on MTV by 2000. As usual, the industry walked past the best and signed up the inane Blink 182 instead. If anyone in the industry still cares about what punk used to stand for, and authenticity over what will sell the most copies of Tiger Beat, this album will make the Enkindels superstars.