The Dubnicks – Rejection Builds Character

The Dubnicks
Rejection Builds Character

They were doing all right at first. I mean, the opening “Note to Self” may not be the most original thing you have ever heard, but the typical poppy punk stylings (big, crunchy guitar chords mixed with adorable melodies / heavy, driving rhythms / layered vocal harmonies / quasi inspirational lyrics about loss, love, and hope) manage to sound fresh here, and the song would fit nicely on any summer mix tape made for driving in the car. But just when your hopes begin to climb a little, “Worn Out” steps up and, despite the quicker pace and abundance of catchy hooks, gets spoiled by childish lyrics like “I know it’s unhealthy to feel the way I do / But you left me standing with my dick in my hand / And I’m sick of beating off to these worn out pictures of you,” which come off sounding like a poor Blink 182 cover band.
“Falls Apart” takes an approach similar to the opener, with an airy, mid-tempo feel, but it is going to take more than this to win back your trust. Next comes “Please Don’t,” another fast-paced number about a broken relationship that borders on pathetic thanks to lines like “Take me back, I’ll do anything you ask / I was wrong, I’ll do anything you want.” “King of Mediocrity” follows, and by now the title feels as though it would have done nicely as the name for the entire album. It’s a slower, poppier track that does a nice job of breaking things up a bit for the sake of the overall flow of the album, but the jangly guitars and nasally vocals are getting on your nerves by now, making “Wish You Well” almost painful, even though it would probably earn a higher mark if it came earlier, since it is, after all, one of the better tracks here. Finally, and as you would almost expect at this point in an album that sounds as though it has been done before, things come to a close with the lovey-dovey acoustic-tinged ballad, “Act Like You Don’t Care,” but you don’t even bother to listen to it all the way through.
Now you’re done, and with a puzzled look on your face you look back at the album title and think only half jokingly, “rejection builds character? If that’s true, these guys are going to have more character than anyone I know.” You take the disc out of your stereo and add it to the pile of things you’re going to bring to the used record store this weekend to trade in for whatever they offer you. Fifty cents? That’s fine. You can have it. Now I can afford that pack of grape bubble gum I wanted.
This may be the Dubnicks’ third album. They may be a popular act here in their home area of Boston. They may have received all sorts of praise from the local press for their last couple of releases. But that doesn’t automatically mean they are any better than average.