(Parlor Records 2007)Protocol - Recess

For Seattle rockers The Protocol, balancing meaningful lyrics with exciting instrumentation seems to be a bit of a dilemma. On their sophomore album "Recess," The Protocol want to draw allusions to such things as Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky and "environmental apathy" but the rocking riffs seem to always get in their way. Just ring that damn bell all ready and let's hit the ground running -- this is "Recess," after all.

The Protocol take charge on the jangling and upbeat "Entry Fee," a sure iPod jingle wannabe with its repeated chorus primarily made up of "yeah yeah yeah yeah/uh huh uh huh/yeah yeah yeah yeah/uh huh uh huh." Obviously, the lyrics seem to get away from The Protocol from time to time. "Friction is friction, baby," frontman Rob Leinbach states on (surprise) "Friction." Then on the dumb but racing pop punk fun of "Click" Leinbach gives a "holla" to Jenna Jameson and MySpace girls. Oddly and rather awkwardly, the band chooses to follow their mocking rocker with "My Alyosha," a ballad about the death of Leinbach's father.

Is it always better late than never? The Protocol makes the flat recording job of "Recess" lively and spirited, harnessing their energy as the album's driving force. If anything, the main thing to steal the band's thunder is that their blend of edgy modern rock mixed with pop punk might be a bit behind the wave -- most of the comparisons that come to mind you have not heard from in ages (MySpace super fans excluded). What that means is that for The Protocol "Recess" is exactly as it should be, even if it is not perfect.