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From the Valley: Back to the Action, “Get It.”

Another installment of the ongoing From the Valley series of local music reviews, featuring Lehigh Valley-based bands.

Here’s the good news about Get It, the new EP by Bethlehem quintet Back to the Action:

It’s professional-quality pop-punk, equal to anything you’d hear on the radio, or in movies aimed at 18-to-34-year-olds, or in the varied other pop-culture outlets where melodic-but-slamming music turns up these days.

And now the bad news (and yeah, you can guess where I’m going):

It’s professional-quality pop-punk, equal to anything you’d hear on the radio, or in movies aimed at 18-to-34-year-olds, or in the varied other pop-culture outlets where melodic-but-slamming music turns up these days.

Pop-punk, at least to my jaded old ears, is one-dimensional and predictable music, no matter who’s playing it, and no matter whether it’s being filtered through the Disney Channel or a college radio station at midnight.

Song after song, pop-punk rests on the same incessant, interchangeable, unsubtle bed of power-chord guitar — choked and stuttery in the verses, big and ripping on the choruses.

(Even the tone of the guitars barely seems to change from song to song, band to band. It’s as if every guitarist in the 18-to-34 demographic was issued the exact same gear.)

And then there’s the vocals. There’s a certain vocal timbre and range that represents the Perfect (dare I say Cliched?) Pop-Punk Lead Singer Voice.

Those gifted with a Perfect Pop-Punk Lead Singer Voice inevitably use it to double- and triple-track themselves singing about elation (“Hey you (hey you) / Get up, I wanna let you know that I love you tonight”) or alienation (“You had me tied into a knot inside my own mind.”) 

Back to the Action’s singer has one of Those Voices, in spades. You’ll know it the instant you hear it. And he does with it exactly what you’d anticipate he would do with it, if you’ve ever heard any pop-punk.

If you like this kind of music, you’ll probably dig it. If you don’t, you’ll probably wonder why you should give these guys any more of your attention than you’ve given any other band in their genre.

For myself, I don’t have much of an answer to that.

The guys in Back to the Action have pretty good chops. Check out all the tempo shifts in opener “Say Goodbye,” for instance.

If they figured out a way to put those skills into the service of a sound that was recognizably theirs, I’d rave about it.

And maybe they will yet.

I suspect the best thing that could happen to these guys (and yes, I am passing an unsolicited generational judgment … but why stop now?) would be for all five of them to fall in love with some rough-hewn, idiosyncratic album — Tonight’s the Night, or The Basement Tapes, or some more recent equivalent — and soak themselves in it for a couple of months, and emerge from the brine making music that doesn’t sound like everybody else.

Until then, we’ve got the good news/bad news story of a band that — in terms of musical development, if not sales — has climbed about as far as it can go on its particular woodpile.

Back to the Action’s “Get It” is available for download on Bandcamp, for $5 or more. The band is also playing Dec. 7 at Planet Trog in Whitehall.

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