LIFE IN GENERAL
Trying to choose which MxPx album to use here was quite difficult. Polkinatcha, the debut, was like a shot of adrenaline to increasingly stale Christian Rock market at the time. Teenage Politics was a revelation and in some ways a more enjoyable release than the one listed here. But Life in General is simply the best pop punk record in Christian Music history from beginning to end and reviled anything bands like Green Day ever put out. Plus, quite frankly, two words…Chick Magnet!
After the two previously mentioned albums Magnified Plaid (MxPx) unleashed a tour de force in punk songwriting that was aimed at a larger, more mainstream audience, and they simply delivered. catchy, poppy punk with more musical influences than similar releases. There is jazz, pop and funk tinges that take normally mundane and energetic punk songs and made them memorable and well crafted pop songs.
Long before FM Static became the poster boys for Christian teen angst and emotional foibles, MxPx crafted a record that bridged the gap for teens heading to adulthood. First jobs, fights with parents and fading romantic themes litter a record perfectly aimed at it’s core audience. There appears to be this constant struggle for a kid wanting to grow up and have real relationships and yet still having a mom that cleans his room.
Though nothing on the album has the sheer ferocity of Punk Rawk Show, there is plenty of energy to spare here with Middlename, Do Your Feet Hurt and Doing Time. But it is the more mid-tempo and groove influenced songs that the songwriting of Mike Herrera truly shines.
The tongue firmly implanted cheek ditty, Chick Magnet, along with its remarkable and hysterical video is a true stand out. The jazzy, almost rock-a-billy, bass line opens the track and drives the song throughout. This is anti-Smells Like Teen Spirit; fun, exuberant, self-effacing and really quite smart!
The centerpiece of the project may also be the best song MxPx has ever written. As an ode to their home city, Move to Bremerton, is first, a great pop and second, the cornerstone of the central theme of trying to find true love that is hinted at on nearly every song on the project. the great melody and Merrera’s best vocals are accompanied by a “wall of sound” production that fits the theme and sound of the song. It also contains probably the best use of backing vocals from MxPx. It, like Chick Magnet, deserved a greater audience.
I don’t have any official numbers, but I am going to guess the Life in General was one of the best-selling MxPx titles. I was working for the distribution company for the this record at the time and i always remember having to reorder this project everywhere I went. Also I believe, along with Starflyer 59, MxPx is the longest lasting band in Tooth and Nail history. Bands like the OC Supertone and Plank Eye ran their course, but MxPx continues to create very solid punk and rock records. This is a testament to the quality of songwriting, musicianship and passion that was demonstrated so long ago on Life in General.