If Japanther's latest actually were ice cream, it would be rocky road. Moments of isolation and confusion crop up against 20-something exuberance in the lyrics like nuts and sticky marshmallow encased in a smooth chocolate consistency. But ultimately, the ingredients taste a lot better together than they would on their own.
That analogy holds up when applied to the Brooklyn duo's musical concoction. Solid punk and noise rock anthems provide the album's chocolate-y base, complete with Misfits-lifted rhythms and guitar riffs fuzzier than the food in your average punk rocker's refrigerator. But bandmates Ian Vanek and Matt Reilly throw in some unexpected nuttiness with spoken-word sections and subtle hip-hop flavoring. I guess that makes album collaborator Anita Sparrows' vocal contributions the marshmallow. And, sure enough, her voice adds a welcomed, distinct texture to the final product.
Punk has served as a powerful expression of youthful volatility, and that holds true on Rock 'n' Roll Ice Cream. But when I listen to the genre, I expect to get good and pissed. That's not the case here. The album contains moments of anger, sure, but the final experience is, as the title suggests, surprisingly sweet.
Japanther plays Total Fest at the Missoula Art Museum Thursday, Aug. 19, at 8 PM.