The Mandates pulls its members from Sudden Infant Dance Syndrome, The Funfuns, No Problem, and Knucklehead, and they got together twice—the first time when Matt Wickens, Brady Kirchner, and Warren Oostlander put together a band with Sarah Ford (The Funfuns and SIDS) and Ryder Thalheimer (Sabretooth). While that project fizzled, Wickens, Kirchner, and Oostlander still felt the tug towards playing with each other and finally decided to go ahead and do it. They recruited Jimmy James from Knucklehead at a bar one night and between the four of them put together a debut full-length album in 2011. Their second (self-titled) full-length album was released in March.
The album opens with “Is She Coming Back,” which sets the tone with its clean sound, and throwback punk sound. The vocals are belted out quickly, while Wickens and Kirchner team up on the chorus. “Photo In My Wallet Pt. 2” relies more on the drum work than “Is She Coming Back” does, but manages to sound more mellow—that is until the guitar riff half way through that ups the ante.
The rolling drum opening to “Don’t Take It Slow” is an easy way to worm a song into my good books, and the deep vocals add to that as the guitar eases in. “Daggers Girl” comes out edgier, but eases up before the vocals kick in. The vocals come out rougher, and there’s a mean riff during the interlude.
“I Stayed At The Arcade” transitions nicely from “Daggers Girl” with the same rough melancholy. The faux-female voices during the exchange at the end adds a fun moment to an arcade love song. “Terminal Teenager” trips me up with its intro—it sounds like a modern punk take on “Born To Be Wild” before the vocals leap in with rapid-paced wailing.
“Tonight” continues the 60s throwback mixed in with 70s punk. “Gotta Forget That Girl” brings things back to modern times but eases up on the pacing a little. This is punk, after all. “Neon Lights” brings back the deep vocals caterwauling over crashing drums and keening guitar.
“She Gets Her Kicks From Jerry Six (Not Me)” has the benefit of a witty title and a pop beat that makes this one of the songs on the album I most want to dance to. Things end with “She’s Walking Over,” a high note of a love song if there is one. The rolling and repetitive “over and over and over” in the chorus works great as a hook and guarantees I’ll be back for at least one more play before I’m ready to put the album down.
It’s catchy, danceable punk that pumps out a unique sound while experimenting with past versions of the genre. The bandmates bring their own experience to the show, but mix everything together in a way that shows off their comfort and history. Most importantly, they’ve created 11 songs that will get stuck in your head and put an itch in your feet.
Top Tracks: “Terminal Teenager”; “She’s Walking Over”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)