There are anthropological reasons to like the The Barren Marys, assuming you like sussing out influences in the music you listen to like an insane person (strains of New York hardcore, So-Cal skater punk and New Jersey pop-punk run throughout the album’s eight true tracks).

There are personally dubious reasons to dislike it (it recycles two tracks from the band’s 2014 release, The Delran Tapes).

There are completely arbitrary reasons to like it again (the band is offering the record for $6.66 on its Bandcamp page, which is the kind of nerd shit I can get into).

Really though, the reason The Barren Marys stands a step above is because its best songs expand what the band is best at while contextualizing the rest of the album.

From the album art, to the goofball album-closing party track “Uncle Fester,” to the tongue-in-cheek “D.I.Y,” there is more than enough evidence to suggest the band isn’t taking itself too seriously. While that who-gives-a-shit attitude is both central to the band’s charm and its musical choices, it is somewhat undercut by the album’s two best tracks, “Wanna” and “Peter Criss.”

That isn’t to say that these tracks are less fun or more overtly serious than the rest of the record, but their compositions are more obviously mature. The Barren Marys really excel at marrying (ha!) hooky guitar melodies with earworm choruses, both wordless and otherwise, on both of these tracks. They are true punk songs in the sense that they fly in the face of the idea that music needs more than a few simple elements to be special.

In reality, it might be a little high-minded to invoke the spirit of the genre’s primary ideals for what could fairly be considered a fun, hardcore-tinged punk record for beer-drinkers (a gear that the band is very comfortable in on tracks like “Catholic Guilt” and “Philly”). Still, when things really click, both The Barren Marys and the band behind it elevates themselves above well-executed genre writing. Even when it doesn’t, it still works.

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