When I first listened to Appendectomy, the second release from New York’s Dizzy Bats, I thought StGA had found this EP in a time capsule. It’s a perfect replica of 1990s pop-punk, complete with nasally vocals and some horns thrown in for good measure. You can imagine my relief when I found out that this sound was recreated on purpose (somehow, the idea of accidentally recreating ‘90s pop-punk and thinking it’s groundbreaking stuff disturbed me.) It turns out that Dizzy Bats’ frontman Connor Frost just loves the 1990s; the band’s Facebook page describes their sound as “new music from a different era” and “pop-rock like it’s 1995.” They’re pretty committed to the decade: their cover art screams early ‘90s and one of the lines in “Appendectomy” goes “Cyber me and say it’s okay.” Since I haven’t heard anyone use “cyber” as a verb in about a decade, I’ve got to give Dizzy Bats extra props on their commitment to ‘90s vintage.
This album borrows heavily from ‘90s punk-pop, since that is essentially what it is (except for the small detail of not having been made in the 1990s.) Much of it sounds heavily influenced by Green Day; it’s got that late-‘90s, early-2000s three-piece sound on “Appendectomy” and “Angry Eyes.” There are even ‘90s-friendly distorted vocals on “Angry Eyes.” The nasally vocals at times bring to mind They Might Be Giants (especially on “These Kids I Teach.”) There are plenty of anti-authoritarian-ish lyrics that teenagers love, especially on “These Kids I Teach.” The song seems to be sung to someone who is treating the singer like a child, expects him to grow, wants a gift-wrapped apology, and will lead him to his teaching job. The lyrics touch on a popular punk theme when they compare teaching to “molding the minds of future cogs.” Sound familiar from your adolescent pop-punk phase?
“The Batman and the Joker” is quite different from the other tracks; the acoustic instruments, shared lead vocals, and prominent horns all make the song different enough, but the attitude of the song is what really sets it apart. The other songs have the pop-punk frustration and peppy aggression. There’s something more mature about this track (even though in the lyrics I could clearly make out, they were quoting The Dark Knight.) As far as ‘90s band comparisons go, “The Batman and the Joker” has similarities to early Barenaked Ladies – the percussion screams BNL, but the dual lead vocals, use of bass, and ending with plenty of backing vocals are all reminiscent of this not-so-punk group. It’s a weird fit with the rest of the album, but it’s such an interesting song that you won’t question its inclusion.
Dizzy Bats do ‘90s pop-punk justice. They also have a well-produced sound that typically comes with experience; I was surprised to find out that this is only their second release. Does the world need more 1990s pop-punk? Maybe, maybe not. The fact is that Dizzy Bats are able to put together a better ‘90s pop-punk EP than some actual ‘90s pop-punk bands. It’s all been done before, but there’s a big nostalgia factor for anyone who was going through an angsty puberty (but hadn’t found the heavy stuff yet) in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. This record probably won’t be life affirming if you’re no longer mad at your parents; it won’t have nostalgia value if you’re too young to have downloaded a Blink-182 song on Napster or if you never bounced up and down on the spot at an Mx-Px concert. Still, it’s fun.