For many bands, the opening track on an album can act as a double-edged sword, and might warrant a misleading expectation for the rest of the album. It’s probably best to choose a track that gives an impression of what’s ahead, without being too overbearing. The opening track on Jacuzzi Boys’ fourth album Ping Pong, arouses an excitement that will have you eagerly anticipating what’s in store. However, a track opener that induces that sort of hype requires follow through– think of any Led Zeppelin album up to Physical Graffiti.
“Lucky Blade” is a solid start to the record, continuing in the garage punk vain of earlier albums, this time with an admittedly glossy production. Escalating fuzzy guitar riffs, harmonizing bass, and echoing crisp vocals are overlaid throughout the track. Despite the lack of new ground being tread, “Lucky Blade” has a type of buildup and bravado that could be likened to album openers with similar exuberance, such as “The Next Big Thing” by The Dictators or “Sonic Reducer” by Dead Boys.
Unfortunately, “Lucky Blade” is an outlier to an otherwise repetitive, formulaic indie rock album– with just the right amount of oomph to fit perfectly in the background of any melodramatic CW drama. Ping Pong’s third track “Refrigeration,” is a prime example of this. While arguably catchy, the song– along with the rest of the album –begins to lose its luster after only a few listens. The track begins with a Vampire Weekend, “A-Punk”-esque guitar melody, complemented by “oohs and ahhs,” and ends with a bromidic guitar solo. Basically, all the bells and whistles you’d find in any commercial indie rock starter pack. But, unlike Vampire Weekend, Jacuzzi Boys fail to deliver anything of remembrance, making for an album with very low replayability.
“Can’t Fight Forever” is another track with traces of Jacuzzi Boys garage rock roots. Like “Lucky Blade,” it has the sort of vigor that prompts an ambitious response. It’s the type of song that will have fans humming along to the chorus throughout the day, repeating “can’t fight forever” and “into the morning all through the night,” over and over. However, that ambition and vigor immediately die with the following track “Easy Motion,” — one of a handful of songs that wouldn’t seem out of place on a 90’s, alt-rock Spotify playlist.
“Tip of My Tongue/Edge of My Brain” is a lackluster finish to the record and is essentially a complete recap in six and a half minutes. The first two minutes of the track showcase Jacuzzi Boys’ love for mid 90s alternative rock. Subtly, the track transitioning back to the garage rock styling that established the group, while repeatedly chanting the song title for the remaining four minutes. The repetition accompanied by a slow and monotonous guitar solo. The words “Tip of My Tongue/Edge of My Brain” perfectly describe the whole of Ping Pong, and will no doubt result in a “tip of the tongue” mindset, as listeners wonder if they’ve heard these songs before.