This is actually a big deal for me personally because I've been a fan of All Music for close to a decade, and when Dirty Beaches Badlands took off in 2011 I almost immediately checked All Music to see what they had to say. Imagine my disappointment when it took them almost a year to post a review of Badlands. So whatever else one might say about the launch campaign of Punks On Mars Bad Expectations, an immediate review on All Music is solid- if only because they are a source of supply for Itunes, which is roughly 70% of all digital sales of music.
Here is the review, reprinted in full, via the always excellent All Music:
People Talk, the single that Punks on Mars released a few months before Bad Expectations arrived, hinted that Ryan Howe's sci-fi power pop might be a lot less lo-fi than it was before, but that's just the beginning of the changes ushered in by this album. For starters, Punks on Mars have a more fleshed-out, four-piece lineup to match their more polished sound, and the glitter sparkles even more brightly and there's more crunch to the punk on these songs. Nowhere is this more apparent than on "Hey! Tiffany," which first appeared on a January 2012 single and remains one of the band's most powerful pieces of pop, only now its "Pictures of Lily"-style guitar slashing and blippy keyboards sound even brighter and tighter. The addition of bassist/vocalist Andrea Schiavelli adds yet another dimension to the band's sound, especially on "You Do, You Don't," where her girl-group toughness and yearning provide the perfect counterpoint to Howe's sparkly rock & roll fantasies. The synth-driven interludes that dotted Punks on Mars are relegated to the sidelines on Bad Expectations, as is some of the sci-fi storytelling -- although "The Sad Toy" is a notable exception -- in favor of a bevy of hard-edged pop songs like the fey "Chandelier" and "Showers of Pain," which crams heartbreak, tumbling riffs, and a thunderstorm into just 80 seconds. It's obvious that Howe and company are hyper-literate when it comes to pop history: "Tabloid Tomorrow" is more than a bit Kinks-y, and not just because it involves a girl named Victoria, while "Poltergeist" and "Is It Me?" are great examples of just how much angst churns underneath power pop's shiny riffs. However, what makes Punks on Mars interesting is their willingness to turn that knowledge on its ear, especially on the duet "She's a Glitterpunk" and the final rave-up, "Little Runaway," both of which salute teenage dreams and rock-star moves as much as they send them up. However they play it, Punks on Mars sound retro, fresh, and completely catchy on Bad Expectations, and the album's only drawback -- if it can be called that -- is just how breathlessly full of fast-paced, hook-laden songs it is from beginning to end. Howe's switch from lo-fi to hi-def takes a bit of getting used to, since Punks on Mars' earlier music had an evocative, staticky quality that lived up to his project's name, but receiving his transmissions louder and clearer can only be a good thing. Bad Expectations might be the band's second album, but it feels like the beginning of something bigger and better for Punks on Mars.
That's a solid review- four stars.