Music Inside, the latest album from MIDNITE SNAXXX, tilts whatever fans thought they knew ‘bout Snaxxx on a thrilling edge. Bluntly, this new album, the band’s third, is the most eclectic recording they’ve ever produced. While their expert blurring of punk and powerful pop is still very much at the forefront, several willful steps into new directions yield something a lot more adventurous and skillful than expected. Recorded in Los Angeles with DIE GROUP guru Eric Big Arm at the controls, Music Inside captures Snaxxx at their most absorbing: the guitar interplay is dramatically increased, the rhythms strikingly more diverse and the songwriting infinitely more substantive. The album is rooted in frustration and personal/political anger, adding reality and action to the expected revelry and punky coolness. “Lights Out” is exactly the sort of furious take that the band has been after for so long and, paired with a moment like “Out Of Control”, recalls the bleakest moments of classic LA punk. “She Don’t Want That” is another departure, one inspired in by classic UK post-punk and modern danceable DIY in equal measure. “Disconnected” bubbles out from a hyper-freaked angle, whereas “Cyborg” takes a series of sharp turns at high speed --- both tunes providing further evidence of Midnite Snaxxx’s highly-nuanced take on punk sounds, even within the framework of sub-90 second chargers. Over the course of the last decade, the identity of MIDNITE SNAXXX has contorted a few times over. Too punk for garage turkeys, too pop for the spikey set, too trad’ for the freaks. Yet at the end of the day, it’s always been Midnite Snaxxx --- their own sound, one built collectively and assembled with direct devotion to the music inside. It’s never sounded better.
Our take: I’ve been singing Midnite Snaxxx’s praises at least since 2011, and here we are nearly a decade later with the band’s third album. How many punk bands these days make it to a 3rd LP? Listening to The Music Inside makes me think it’s a shame that so few bands have that kind of longevity, because this LP is a record I could only imagine a veteran band making. Until this point, most Midnite Snaxxx songs have been sugar rushes of garage-pop energy, and while they had all the pop hooks and sophisticated songwriting of classic girl groups, the Snaxxx bashed out their pop masterpieces with the energy and power you hear on an early Angry Samoans or Circle Jerks record. There are a few songs on The Music Inside that follow this template—“Cyborg” and “12 O’clock”—but most of the album finds the band expanding their sound outward. Dulcinea Gonzalez’s brilliant songwriting ensures that every song is still a hit, but rather than just explosions of power chords and Ramones beats, we get a wider range of sounds, textures, moods, and influences. Tracks like “She Don’t Want That” and “Lights Out” have early Rough Trade Records-type post-punk vibes, while “Phased Out” and “Disconnected” remind me of the second Undertones album, when their music got a little more sophisticated but still kept their punky energy. The more spacious arrangements allow room for a ton of interplay between the two guitars, making every track an orgy of criss-crossing melodic lines. While there may be some garage turkeys who peg this as a departure record, I think Midnite Snaxxx has achieved that rare feat of growing and changing while losing none of the things I already loved about them.