After their 2013 debut full-length, Hell Bent, Potty Mouth relocated from Northampton, MA to Los Angeles, CA. The move came with a change in sound. Their self-titled EP saw the band trade in dead pan pop-punk for a glossier grunge sound. Four years later, the trio’s sophomore full-length album, SNAFU is finally upon us.
SNAFU largely combines Potty Mouth’s last two effort. It sees the band turn back to pop punk but with the sheen of LA studio production. Listening to the album, it should come as no surprise that it was engineered by Courtney Ballard whose previous credits include Good Charlotte. There are glimpses of that major label early-2000s pop punk on songs like on “22” which you could easily hear the Madden brothers singing. Opening track, “Do It Again” has a similar poppy vibe with a chorus that sounds directly lifted from Robyn and Royksopp’s 2014 song of the same name.
Single, “Starry Eyes” is poppy but in a different way. The intro sounds somewhere between Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven Is a Place on Earth” and Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn;” it features synth pads which are never heard on the album again and a clean guitar sound. Lyrically, it is the fluffiest song on the album about being in love with someone who you have no future with. With a chorus of “I’ve got starry eyes/you’re my favorite waste of time,” its a fairly nothing song.
Perhaps the most surprising part of SNAFU is the number of songs that seem to be throwing shade at their former home state. The most obvious one is “Massachusetts,” a song about not wanting to get stuck in the state. Others like “Liar,” the angstiest song on the album, and “Bottom Feeder” seems to suggest that two-faced frenemies were partially to blame for the move across the country.
SNAFU spends its time bouncing between frivolous pop and bitter angst. Neither are particularly interesting alone but when the right balance is struck on songs like “Massachusetts,” it can be infectious. Potty Mouth has proven they can write poppy songs and they can write substantive songs but it still might take more time to write songs that are both. Until then, SNAFU is a document of a band in transition but sounding pretty good doing it.