When guitarist Steve E. Nix walked out of snotty wiseguy outfit the Briefs in 2007 to start the Cute Lepers, many pogo-punk purists were bummed. The first Cute Lepers LP (Can't Stand Modern Music) put Nix's songwriting skills and arrangement ideas on display by dialing down both tempos and attitude, significantly. After 2010's Smart Accessories — where Nix reconciled his hunger for decibels, downstrokes and straight-up attitude — comes Adventure Time, another rocket ride of manifold-melting proportions.
While there are plenty of adrenaline-laden rave-ups ("Misdirected," "Damaging Acts," "Ambulance Man") happening here, they're not at the expense of staying in a creative holding pattern. "Head Over Heels" feels like the Clash, the Dickies and the Archies piling in the back of a convertible, just loving life and pissing off cops. In addition, songs like "Tribute To Charlie," "She Liked Helter Skelter" and the title track boast attitude, musicianship and writing skills, hearkening back to a post-glam vibe reminiscent of Ian Hunter's milestone, You're Never Alone With A Schizophrenic. At its best, Adventure Time takes you back to a time when calling yourself "punk" was a declaration of war, the songs were vibrant and focus-group rebellion hadn't yet been developed. At its worst, it's…Well, chumley, there's not a fecking thing wrong with it. Tear up your clothes, cut your hair while blindfolded, crank this up high and hit the road. Don't forget to punch a Bon Jovi fan in the face while you're out.