[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he punk scene has been obsessed with nostalgia for itself for so long that it’s not even an inside joke anymore. The Onion can run an article about an aging punk who calls the new breed of spiky-haired degenerates a bunch of poseurs because they don’t know about Rancid or NOFX, and basically everyone understands why that’s funny.
But DUCKY BOYS, survivors of the ‘90s Boston punk boom, haven’t withered into a throwback. After all, they never went away …except for that time they went away in 1999… and the other time they went on hiatus in 2008, after the first time they got back together in 2003. Full-time operations resumed once again in 2011, and the surly quartet swiftly unloaded the Chasing the Ghost LP and the Chemicals EP in 2012.
Making up for lost time, Mark Lind and his cohort already completed Dead End Streets — the third release since their last renewal. While a worthy addition to the Ducky canon, overall, it’s not as solid as Chasing the Ghost.
“Up Down & Wrong” shoots for the same dewy-eyed yet defiant world-weariness expertly thrown down on “You Sing the Chorus” off Chasing, but the gang harmonies that show up halfway in are close enough to overwrought to remind the listener of “We Are the World.” But that’s the only really notable soft spot in this record’s armor.
Ducky Boys can get away with honing in on hindsight much more than other acts with as lengthy of a history, simply because Lind has the self-awareness to admit that the “good old days” actually kind of sucked a lot of the time. The circle pit friendly “I Was Intoxicated” would work as a drinking song and Step 8 of Bill W.’s master plan, except the tone hardly oozes remorse (thankfully). That one’s followed up by the ballad-ish title track, where Lind celebrates his reverence for Guns N’ Roses while doing the opposite of celebrating poor life choices.
Guitarist Douglas Sullivan steps up to sing a handful of tracks, and while his vocals lack Lind’s quaky distinction, the eclecticism of his contributions — especially the incongruously restrained but nonetheless groovy “The Time We’re Given” — demonstrate why Ducky Boys are usually most comfortable self-identifying as a rock n’ roll outfit despite their street punk lineage.
Later, Sullivan gnashes his teeth on “Kick” and the apocalyptic “The Gravest Generation” — the heaviest songs here on Dead End Streets. But if we had to pick a single, we’d tap the fiery “Enough of My Time.” Put in a broader context, its lyrics remind us that some fixtures of the past — a purple mohawk we thought looked totally bad ass junior year, for instance — aren’t worth more consideration than they’ve been given.