There's not much new ground covered on Pin Points and Gin Joints, the eight studio album by Boston MA's The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. But The 'Tones perfected their style years ago, so why mess with perfection. I don't mean to say that the album is a boring retread of previous albums. Quite the opposite. Pin Points is an exciting, upbeat get-out-of-your-seat kind of album, While not straying from previous styles they've played, there is enough variation that they aren't playing the same thing over and over. The band went on hiatus shortly after their last album, 2002's A Jackknife To A Swan. This is their first studio release since getting back together (though a b-sides collection, Medium Rare, was released in 2007) and the band are as great as they've ever been. The horns are tight and the drums are consistently rocking. There's an interesting interplay between the reggae and ska oriented guitar parts and the distorted, alt-rock guitar parts. Joe Gittleman bounced back from the hiatus of his other band, Avoid One Thing, and is still rocking out on bass (listen to the interlude in the song You Left Right?). And of course, Dicky Barrett still has one of the most distinct voices in ska.
The entire album is great, but there are some highlight tracks (in my opinion):
"Graffiti Worth Reading," with its insistance that "graffiti worth reading is rarely written on walls that are worth writing on."
"Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah" with it's easily singable chorus (the title line, which for any other band would be, well, kinda lame, but The 'Tones makes it awesome.
"The Route That I Took," in which the narrator examines the choices he's made. Touching but with an upbeat yet easygoing rhythm. My favorite song to listen to from this album.
"I Wrote It." It seems to me to be a kinda abstract examination of which is more important, the creative act or the end creation.
"Death Valley Vipers." Just fun to listen to. And one of the more unique songs on the album.
The only real problem I have with this album is the original release. It has nothing to do with the sound, the artwork, the band, or anything else, just the timing. This album came out in December and I bought it and listened to it in the middle of horrible snow. It was playing in my car as I fought to stay on the road in a Western New York winter. It just wasn't the right environment for the album. To me, The 'Tones have always been a band that just feels right when the sun is shining. I decided to review this album when I listened to it while I was driving on a sunny summer day. The band sound awesome any time, but they just have a summer feel to them (for me at least) and I can't help but feel like this album would have made a bigger impact on me at first listen if it hadn't been below zero. Overall, though, a great album by an amazing band, and I can't wait to hear their next one.