Northbrook is a pop-punk band that refuses to accept the limitations. Hailing from College Park, Maryland, the project serves as an outlet for the writing of Ryan Mentzos. Although the band stretches beyond the typical sound coming from the genre, it does not assume too much about itself. On Maybe, the band’s debut disc, Northbrook delivers a smorgasbord of delicious pop-rock with several obvious influences. It surprises. It charms. It works where it seems like it shouldn’t. For those of you looking for a short, catchy snippet, here it is: This album is good.

As said above, Maybe wears its influences on its shoulders but, fortunately, without tip-toeing into the arena of imitation. Whether jumping from Jack’s Mannequin, piano-laden pop rock and Jimmy Eat World vocal patterns (“Au Revoir Ah Malhonnetete”) to adding spoken-word sections into what sounds like it could be a The Starting Line song (“The Leaving Song. Whatever. We Didn’t Feel Like Naming This One”), Northbrook captures a lot of what is good about pop-punk music. However, Maybe’s greatest strength can also be its greatest weakness. Songs like “How To Tame The Rare Stilleto Lioness” seem to add things to songs that are not needed. The song in questions throws in syrupy vocal sections and double-bass where they are just not necessary.

Mentzos’ vocals can leave a little be desired (“Forecast The Overcast”) but when he pushes them just as hard as he pushes his music (“Hollywood Isn’t Glamorous”) the serve as a near perfect accent to the album’s musical arrangements, which are, at times, well thought out (“It Ain’t Easy Bein’ A Cowboy (And You Ain’t No Clint Eastwood)”) and, at other times, not so much. Even those songs though are clearly made to excite a live audience (“Fine, If I Can’t Put My Tongue In Your Cheek, I’ll Put It In Mine”).

For a debut album, the record works. However, Northbrook will have to capture its own sound to survive. Maybe is easy to devour and digest and if you find yourself missing The Starting Line, Northbrook may just become your new favorite band. They have a good start and all the signs of a band read to expand to even more surprising musical heights.

Released: March 22nd, 2009
Overall Rating: 6.8/10