The Last Grand Experiment

Boy Genius

Tommy Boy Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/27/1998

Is there any band out there that can outdo Green Day for the title of best pop-punk band on the alternative scene?

Count Boy Genius in the "contender" category for that title. The trio's debut effort The Last Grand Experiment shows off some very good music and musicianship (as well as a solid sense of humor), but its length proves to be its downfall.

Guitarist Tom Appleton is a more technically knowledgable musician than some of his peers, something you can hear in his solos he peppers this EP with. As a vocalist, he's a little more limited than someone like Billie Joe Armstrong, but he makes up for that with heart. Bassist Scott West seems to play more of a behind-the-scenes role in the band, while drummer/backing vocalist Brad Allison demonstrates his ability on the trap kit very well.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Boy Genius shows their greatest strength in their tongue-in-cheek humor. Songs like "My Girlfriend's In Love (With Superdrag)" capture the listener first with the self-deprecating humor, then with the solid musicianship all three members demonstrate to close out the one-two punch on the listener's senses.

But hidden behind the smiles and the energy of modern punk rock is the evidence of the pain normal life can lead. "Love Is Weaker Than Time" shows that Appleton and crew relate to the loss of love in a long-term relationship, and they beautifully put their pain to words that almost everyone can understand, if not relate to. "Long Way Down" continues this theme almost just as well. Again, carrying songs like this are the solid musicianship and the harmony vocals of Appleton and Allison.

Near the end of The Last Grand Experiment, Boy Genius seems like they might be running out of steam a bit; songs like "New Conviction" and "Man Of Honor" tend to blend into one another to the listener's ears. I'll pin that on the band's youthfulness; the only thing that helps out the songwriting is time, and I am certain that small speed bumps like this will be quickly ironed out by the band.

My biggest complaint about this album is the length; it clocks in at a half-hour. While this might be a disc you'd want to listen to when you're squeezed for time, I wish I had more than 30 minutes to base a solid opinion of the band on. Just when you really start getting into the groove of The Last Grand Experiment, the disc ends. Drat.

Boy Genius is most definitely a name you should be hearing on the radio soon; many songs off The Last Grand Experiment have the potential to be big breakout hits on alternative radio. Here's hoping the next time they choose to grace us with more than eight songs.

Rating: B+

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Tommy Boy Records, and is used for informational purposes only.