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ALBUM REVIEW

Open Your Eyes

Pop, Punk , Ska, Reggae All In One

By Ravi Kapoor

Goldfinger

Open Your Eyes

May 21, 2002

Jive/Mojo Records

Goldfinger, having recently lost co-founder and lead guitarist Charlie Paulson due to musical differences, is in a predicament. Front man John Feldmann himself produced, engineered, and mixed Goldfinger’s latest album Open Your Eyes. The band also switched labels from Mojo to Jive, well-known for the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears, but not recognized for any punk bands. Through all this confusion, Goldfinger created an album that shows consistency, yet the famous diversity of pop-punk, ska, and reggae that screams Goldfinger goodness.

The album blasts open with the track “Going Home.” The screech of feedback shoots into four hard-driven power chords, and the bliss of pure pop-punk love song is heard. The tempo is amazingly fast and the slightly offbeat drum rhythm immediately reminds me of Blink-182’s “The Party Song.” Goldfinger opens the album with a song parallel to “Mind’s Eye,” the first track of its self-titled album. Already Goldfinger devotees and newcomers are cupping their hands around their mouths making that ‘fans-go-wild’ roar.

Other love-song tracks on Open Your Eyes are “Tell Me,” “Happy,” and most notable, “Decision.” This song is slower in pace than “Going Home,” yet retains the pop-punk label. A typical verse leads into a catchy chorus, in which Feldmann professes, “so you made your decision / I guess it’s you that I’ll be missin’.” The chorus is reminiscent of Mest’s “Cadillac” with its light vocal melody. The verse, chorus, solo and transitions are all kept simple to make for a true punk song.

“Tell Me” is a love ballad with an equally appealing chorus. Starting off light, the song turns into heavy punk, and then twists into an authentic Goldfinger reggae panache. “Happy” returns to the fast throb of “Going Home,” making me want to jump and mosh throughout the song. While the vocals remind me of Blink-182’s “Adam’s Song,” the guitar part is clearly Alkaline Trio style.

Goldfinger’s first single, “Open Your Eyes,” sets them apart from other punk bands. An angry, political song about the slaughter of animals comes from Feldmann, a vegetarian and promoter of animal rights. Feldmann attempts to reach his audience with a heavy, raging chorus yelling “wake up / wake up / a shot to the head / just so you can be fed / won’t you wake up.” The verse is uncharacteristically mellow and subdued. The bridge is random and draws away from the consistency of the song. While it sends a strong message on animal cruelty, the song is one of the weaker ones on the album, which leaves me wondering why it’s the first single.

While Goldfinger performs love songs and a few political songs on Open Your Eyes, Feldmann delivers more introspective lyrics on “Spokesman,” “It’s Your Life,” and “Youth.” “Spokesman” starts with palm-muted punk chords with a message about being fed-up with popular songs that lack emotion and genuineness. With lyrics like, “what happened to integrity / I don’t see it on MTV / all I see is choreography” and “who the fuck is Felicity,” Goldfinger dispenses thoughtful lyrics without sacrificing humor.

“It’s Your Life” is the most reflective and flexible song on the entire album. With a brooding, melodic acoustic guitar introduction and gravy vocal harmony, the song turns into a mix of punk and ska. Ska upstrokes are played over a punk chorus that rapidly changes to a Sublime-like reggae feel over the bridge. The song is about getting one’s life on track and remembering where one came from. “Youth,” a more progressive track, shows a new side to Goldfinger. Its lyrics complement those of “It’s Your Life” with the opposing circumstances of being on track in life. The subtle chorus helps to turn the song into one flowing piece. The guitar is almost entirely acoustic with a sweet, slick solo.

Feldmann writes songs for Open Your Eyes with less ska and reggae than he did on previous albums, yet still retains some diversity which makes for a more consistent album than the band’s previous three LPs. This stability has helped Goldfinger find a sound that is truly the band’s own. Produced, engineering, and mixing the album gave Feldmann the freedom to do things as he saw fit. The vocals are more prominent throughout the album, something Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain did with In Utero as opposed to the guitar-heavy Nevermind. While Goldfinger makes a remarkable new album, their first hit-single “Here In Your Bedroom” and the band’s self-titled album reign supreme.