“Pills” by the Architects, from Vice (Anodyne):
Hardworking, broken-backed, sweaty-headed, scruffy-looking Kansas Citians the Architects have never tried to win folks over with much more than relentless punk-drenched rock-and-roll honesty. Now, with Vice, the group amps up its sound to arena-rocking levels, throwing in plenty of gang vocals and melodic hooks to make sure it reaches the proles in the cheap seats. In other words, the Architects have gotten catchy — and they sound like they’re having more fun than ever. “Cold Hard Facts” kicks the album off with drummer Adam Phillips driving nails into the ride cymbal and Brandon Phillips’ and newbie Keenan Nichols’ guitars bearing against each other like red-and-blue cop-car lights; Cold hard facts are all that keeps me warm, goes the ascetic chorus. “Hard Times” continues the theme of rockin’ out ’cause you ain’t got shit, and “Pills” boasts the most epic hey-yay-yeahs the Phillipses have ever uttered. A countrified thread creeps up in the backbeats and lyrical narratives of “Daddy Wore Black,” “Oklahoma” and the Graduate-inspired “Mrs. Doyle.” “New Boots and Truncheons” is the best AC/DC ripoff to employ politically sarcastic lyrics, probably ever. Sometimes the band’s newfound embrace of power rock skirts close to beer-commercial territory, but all in all, Vice is totally righteous, so long as there’s no stick up the listener’s ass.