Song Review: The Superlative – “High Anxiety”

Song Review: The Superlative – “High Anxiety”

Song: ‘High Anxiety’
Band: The Superlative
Location: Canada (in the late 90’s)
Date of Release: 11/09/2015 (a fitting date for a plane wreck)
Genre: Pop-Punk/Ska/Guantanamo Bay Torture Tracks
Reviewer: Aguste Dupin (Muir)
For Fans Of: Nickelback, Avril Lavigne, bad things from Canada
Why They Aren’t Famous: Literally every aspect of their existence.

Name’s Muir, and this is my first review for I Probably Hate Your Band. I wanted to write for IPHYB because even just the name is an apt description of how I feel about you if you play in a local pop punk or metalcore band, and you have messaged me on Facebook promoting it. In Western Sydney, that’s our “Yo, check out my mixtape, fam, it’s fire!”

When I was eighteen, I spammed anyone who would listen with my shitty beatdown band. The difference between myself and The Superlative, however, is that I learned very early on that promoting mediocrity is discrediting on the behalf of the artist. This is compounded when the artist, the PR, and the marketing team are all the same people. Promoting mediocrity on your first EP is embarrassing, but on your second full-length release? Criminal. This is the stage of artistic and professional development Canada’s The Superlative are currently residing at. If there was a license to work in the industry, this is the point at which it would be revoked.

Sometimes I dream of moving to Canada. Perhaps I could breathe easily in the knowledge that nobody will accost me with free download codes, or poorly printed CD-R’s of their new concept album about middle-class suburban friendships, or pizza–or basically anything that we associate with kids who grew up on Blink 182 and Green day. Ones that grew up too late to reflect on the fact that the average age of their band members alienates them from almost any paying audience in their genre. Everybody knows Soupy from The Wonder Years cries uncontrollably into his beard every night, unable to sell his depressing poetry about Gen Y to the same people who listen to his band. What chance would these schmucks have of selling a t-shirt, let alone enough of anything to quit their day jobs?

Luckily for the chumps in The Superlative, Canada seems to be so far behind on their pop-punk trends that I was able to enjoy High Anxiety without drawing comparisons to New Found Glory. I did, however, draw comparisons to Reel Big Fish. Can you hear that trumpet exhaling sloppily? Like a deflating balloon into a Boss HM-2 pedal? That was the sound of ska’s mainstream relevance fading out 15 or 20 years ago. Apparently the signal got lost somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, because it seems to have failed to reach the band.

The opening arpeggios almost fooled me into thinking I was coming across something along the lines of The Wonder Years (one of the only bands in the genre worth shit) – before the awkward drum roll and emphasis on the off-beats kicked in. My shit-eating grin fell off my face faster than Reel Big Fish’s when the audience yells “Play Take on Me!” throughout the entirety of the set, only to leave the moment they finish the song.

The production, admittedly, is quite crisp – but even sound quality and the harmonies couldn’t detract from the sheer dullness of the singer’s generic faux-Californian whine. The “yeah” coda of each verse over the cheerful ‘white boy reggae’ guitars is absolutely fucking painful.

Many bands and artists have written about mental illness with nuance and tact. You’ll also notice that none of those people have placed the name of the mental illness in the actual song title. You probably couldn’t skank to those either. The lyrics kick off with a level of cringe that I believe I experienced in my internal organs: “I’ve been sleeping in for days, yeah/no motivation just stuck in my own ways, yeah, yeah” whine The Superlative. It’s like they know their core audience are going to be high-schoolers, although it does look like the singer’s kids would probably be starting high school right about now. It’s okay, buddy – my anxiety levels would also be off the charts if I had written this steaming pile of absolute horse-shit on my second album.

It clunks along: “This ain’t a joke, I’m about to choke, anxiety is taking over me,” before going into a wholly forgettable power pop chorus. Are these guys French Canadian, maybe? Because it would be acceptable if English was their second, (or third, or fourth) language. But if we’re in a culture that values the personal expression of adults, who rhyme “joke” and “choke” in a song about their crippling mental illness, then I literally never want to fucking listen to music, read literature, or view art again, because somewhere in late-modernism we went terribly fucking wrong.

I wish I had spent more time on the technicalities of why this is bad musically, but the truth is that it’s not at all terrible musicianship or production that even sinks the ship. It’s the boring vocals, the dismal lyrics, and the absolutely hackneyed songwriting (and concept for a band) that make this song absolutely unlistenable. I am going to ask if I can forgo embedding the video and providing a “DONOTLINK” instead because If it’s possible I seriously don’t want this garbage to get even a single YouTube view from this review.

If there’s even one single critic on the planet who disagrees with me, then this song is the embodiment of the death of western art.

Vocals: 4/10
Guitars: 7/10
Bass: 6/10
Drums: 6/10
Production: 9/10
Lyrics: no will to live anymore/10
Songwriting: 0/10
Overall IPHYB Rating: 3/10
Personal Enjoyment: 1/10

Song Review: The Superlative – “High Anxiety”
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