Label: Polyvinyl Release date: 28/09/2010 Link: Official Site Buy/Stream: Amazon/Spotify The latest release by the Californian-based punk band XBXRX is nothing if not a mystery. O is a puzzling creation, with the whole album being just under nine minutes long, and the longest track ending after only one minute and twenty-two seconds. Upon listening to some of XBXRX’s discography, you get the impression of an angry but talented new-wave punk band. Indeed, 2007 release Wars is a fantastic record, exuding a perfect balance of anger, noise and energy whilst still creating eminently listenable songs. The band has always had a reputation for great live shows, and the energy that makes them such a crowd-pleaser is ever present in this record as in any other, but that is pretty much the only way in which O has anything in common with any of XBXRX’s prior releases. Right from the beginning, the point of this album is hard to fathom. The fact that the songs are so short is very different and against the grain is distracting, and whilst originality and invention should be always applauded, but in this case the band never get a chance to settle into a track and it makes the album largely pointless. Tracks like ‘Opposed Reality’ start off promisingly, but then 40 seconds later it’s onto a new track and the momentum is lost. This is one of the most noticeable aspects of this album, and whatever concept it is the band are going for with this album simply does not work. Yes, punk does needs energy, attitude and to be against the status quo (XBXRX have all in abundance) but it also needs melody and craftsmanship otherwise what transpires is just a load of angry noise - even the Sex Pistols had song writing skills! Perhaps the worst thing about O is precisely this; the fact that it sounds amateurish. The garage-y sound that many punk bands echo is great when pulled off well, and under-production should always be commended, but in the case of O it is different. On the surface it looks arty with its short track lengths and graffiti-d album cover but it just sounds talentless – a shame considering how revered XBXRX are around the scene. The small track lengths give the impression of a band that can’t write proper songs, and even put together as a whole the album still doesn’t work. There isn’t much that can really be said about this album – there isn’t enough of it to comment on. It was mentioned about this band not long ago that they were the last true punk band – this may well be true, and purists will probably love the two-fingered (or one-fingered, being American) salute to the establishment that O represents. The rest of us, however, will simply look at this with apprehension and wonder just what on earth XBXRX were trying to do. Photobucket