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Hotel Chelsea, El Pee

Album Review

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Pop punk's relevance may have gone out the window more than a decade ago, but you wouldn't think it when listening to El Pee, the debut album from Boise's Hotel Chelsea--not because it's an instant classic full of unforgettable songs, but because the band treats the style like it is still on the ascendency, both in execution and enthusiasm.

El Pee largely ignores the progressive arrangements, poly-rhythms and recording fidelity that morphed pop punk into screamo as the '90s faded, and that modern parishioners often get mired in. Instead, the band focuses on the simple things: four on the floor beats, snotty lyrics full of insider references, and a total disinterest in doing anything other than setting all guitars on blast and singing a chorus listeners will get stuck in their heads.

El Pee takes off like a gunshot with a shouted lyric on "Sup," and then a smoothly overdriven guitar riff. Fists will be pumped and speed limits will be ignored.

Standout tracks include "Buffalo Bill Cosby," the hate-ballad "Milo Goes to Hawaii" and the righteously self-deprecating "Sampson is a Fuck"--penned by frontman Ryan Sampson.

Most albums have a few filler songs and El Pee is no different. It suffers a few moments of inconsistency, mostly when lead vocal duties switch to Red Kubena, whose tinny snarl creates a different presence than the tenor rumble on most of the album. But Hotel Chelsea's El Pee is one of the few new records that sounds as good as its source material, instead of a parody of what the style once was.

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