Should you have been wondering what became of the non-Kurt Baker Leftovers, wonder no longer: guitarists Andrew Rice and Matt Anderson, along with drummer Adam Woronoff, teamed with the Jetty Boys' Eric Mahnke on bass to create a back-to-basics project called Borderlines. It's young, raw, straight-ahead, radio-friendly pop-punk with plenty of full-throttle sing-along choruses and a frantic pace.
On their debut EP, Magical Paths to Fortune and Power, you can hear the energy and mania of their former outfit, but the day-glo irony of the Leftovers has been replaced with something more tinged with heartache and betrayal. The feedback to open "Over Extended" is signal one that the gloss has worn off and a grit rubbed in its place, with a partner in the heavy rock of the bridge. "Spotlight" is sneering: "I don't wanna see your every move/Unless you're walking out of the room," sings Rice.
Woronoff's drums come at you like repeated slaps about the head and neck, darting out like jabs and then laying in hard on the speedbag. The wild abandon on his fills gets at the best of the early-punk feeling that everything is riding right on the edge of total disaster and the whole thing could wind up in a pile on the floor.
The best track, "Admission Price," even has a PiL vibe to it, with a vocal in the bridge where you can just about hear his tongue lolling to the side, a barbed hook in the first half of the chorus ("And what you're asking for/Really isn't worth the price"), and a guitar solo full of five-note riffs that drop off a cliff.
With Woronoff on the West Coast (and playing with the Queers), Borderlines might only be a once-in-a-while kind of thing, but that fits this first record. Every once in a while you'll just flip over to this for a bit and be pretty happy that you did.
MAGICAL PATHS TO FORTUNE AND POWER | Released by Borderlines | on Insubordination Records | with Off with Their Heads + Steiner Street | at Geno's, in Portland | Oct 10 | facebook.com/borderlinesmusic