The Ataris – End is Forever

The Ataris
End is Forever

The label stuck to the front of the case reads: “One of the fastest growing punk bands in recent memory. This album is a true delight filled with heartfelt hyper-melodic punktales of teenage dreams and broken hearts.” And that pretty much sums it up. These are the kinds of songs that, if you listen to as your driving around in the summer, or pretty much anytime, you can’t help but reminisce about an old girlfriend, boyfriend, or growing up in general.

Singer/guitarist Kris Roe formed the Ataris in early 1997, after a demo that he recorded by himself got the attention of Vandals founder Joe Escalante. Since then, they have changed lineups, had their production duties handled by members of the Descendents, and toured with bands like Blink 182, MxPx, Homegrown, and countless others. On End Is Forever, the Ataris slow things down a bit. Maybe they’re growing up, maybe they just wanted to try something different. There is even some piano, moog, cello, pedal steel, and dialogue from both Clerks and Good Will Hunting thrown in.

At first, I was concerned about the Ataris becoming the next Blink 182, going from punk poster boys to MTV favorites. But, the more you listen, the more apparent it becomes that the songwriting isn’t simply slower or less punk, but it’s better. The tempo may be different, but the emotion is the same. “These past few weeks / I’ve been confused / Sometimes I wonder if I’m better off alone / You fall in love / Then break your heart / You fall in love again / It’s never ending,” singer/guitarist Kris Roe cries on the opening track, “Giving Up On Love.”

Roe has always had a knack for song writing. Ever since the Ataris’ debuted in 1997 with Anywhere But Here, and with their follow-up in 1999 with Blue Skies, Broken Hearts?Next 12 Exits, he has been writing songs that are so thoughtful they strike a major nerve, but so simple that anyone can relate. “Another year you’ll all be here / Falling in love and watching sunsets and sunrises / It’ll be grand and just what you planned / ‘Til tomorrow comes and you’ve said your last goodbye / He says he’ll write, but he won’t write / And you will waste your time / So stay the fuck home and greet everyone with goodbye,” Roes sings on “If You Really Want To Hear About It.”

If you have heard of the Ataris before, a few songs on End Is Forever may sound familiar. “Song For A Mixtape” and “How I Spent My Summer Vacation,” are two songs that were originally recorded and put on a split EP with a band called Useless I.D., entitled Let It Burn, over a year ago. These new versions are quite different; much slower, more drawn out, and not quite as good as the originals.

Highlights of their newest release include the beautiful “I.O.U. One Galaxy” (“Stars are out tonight / And you’re the brightest one shining in my sky / It’s like every wish I ever made came true / The day I woke up lying next to you”), “Summer Wind Was Always Our Song,” the catchy-as-hell “Teenage Riot,” and the blatantly angry “Song 13.”

If you have ever been dumped, been in love with someone who doesn’t know you exist, looked back sadly at your childhood, argued with your parents, or all of the above, End Is Forever has a song on it for you. It may make you think, it may make you cry, it may make you want to punch a whole in the wall, but at least there will be a good soundtrack.