Other than the fact that Man Alive is from Israel, there isn't much that separates this pop-punk trio from their musical peers. The sing-along choruses, razor-sharp changes and slick production definitely propel the band into the upper echelon of contemporary punk -- but does the world need
another pop-punk band?
Man Alive deliver their knockout punch from the get-go. "Give Me a Sign" is an alt-radio hit in the making with a soaring chorus and a well-balanced blend of chugga-chugga riffs and carefully crafted tempo changes. The impeccable melodies are simple enough to catch your ear, but there's enough substance behind them to put "Give Me a Sign" in heavy MP3 player rotation. There are many more upbeat numbers ("Against the Wall" and the punchy "Stationary" are the standouts), but Man Alive also shows a sensitive side with some slower stuff. The dramatic "Say What You Want" preaches speaking your mind as its languid melody methodically burns its way into your memory. The marching snare drum and acoustic guitar on "Rewind" are soft and supple, but the band tosses in some much-needed testosterone to level the mood before the hankies come out. The most innovative tune of the bunch is the cleverly titled "Catch Phrases, Slogans and Chants"; its fast-paced punk rhythm gradually gives way to an unusual time signature that's reminiscent of Strike Anywhere's spastic shakedowns.
If gang vocals, zippy tempos and decent songwriting are part of your formula for perfect punk, Man Alive should satisfy your desires quite adequately. It's certainly worth a few spins, though it may leave an empty feeling in your stomach -- the same feeling you get when you eat at the local fast food joint. (Sure, the greasy edibles got the job done, but was it really worth it?) These days, it takes much more than a series of well-placed "Whoa-oh-ohs" and perfectly executed songs for a band to stand tall on the pop-punk playing field. Like so many of their stateside peers, Man Alive deliver their pop punk with far more conviction than creativity.