Reinvention is a double-edged sword. When it comes to music, one can stand to gain a huge fan base or one can end up alienating their original fans. In the case of Fenix TX, it’s not the music that has been reinvented, but the attitude and songwriting process.
Originally known as Riverfenix, the band scored a hit with a cover of the Duran Duran hit “Ordinary World”. Shortly after, Blink 182 brought glossy punk to the mainstream and Riverfenix reorganized and changed their name to Fenix TX. Meanwhile, they made Blink 182 bassist Mark Hoppus their manager.
Fenix TX’s self-titled debut was a foot-tapping, sonic assault, full of funny lyrics and derivative punk hooks. The band portrayed themselves as goof-offs with 70s-style punk monikers like “Dumpster Damon” and “Adam Atomic.” Though they acted like screw-ups, their music was strong. “Flight 601” was a strong punk track and “All My Fault” got the attention of MTV and was featured on their made-for-television movie “Jailbait.” The hard-hitting track “Ben” was also an album highlight and allowed the band to tour with some harder hitting punk acts.
Somewhere along the line, the laughter died off and Fenix TX began to take themselves and their careers quite seriously. “Dumpster Damon” now goes by Damon De La Paz and “Adam Atomic” uses Adam Lewis. Nothing too funny about that.
Fenix TX just released their new disc, “Lechuza,” and from the moment the record starts, the tracks are more reminiscent of recent Face To Face material, not a mish-mash of tracks from flash-in-the-pan acts like Sum 41 and mainstream punk heavyweights like Blink 182. This could actually work out to be a good thing for Fenix TX. Eventually, the breed of music Blink 182 has spawned will kill itself off.
“Lechuza” is no joke. There are no funny barnyard animal jokes, just straight-ahead rock and sometimes tenacious lyrics. “Something Bad Is Gonna Happen” is a hard-edged punk track with lyrics like “hey you want it/hey we’ll get it/hey steal the attention from everybody.”
“Tearjerker” is a mid-tempo love tracks with keyboards and crashing drums. The lyrics are shocking for a Fenix TX record. Lines like “Your picture on the wall/just waiting there to fall/still remind me of that painful holiday” may catch fans off-guard. Still, the track is so catchy that one can’t help but enjoy it. This is not the same Fenix TX and it doesn’t matter, because it’s about the music and the music is good.
“Katie W.” sounds like a warped version of Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So” and the track rocks, bringing a heavy, crashing rock track to “Lechuza.”
The lead single, “Threesome,” deals with the taboo subject of depression, something the old Fenix TX would have made into a big joke. Instead, the track is tinged with lyrics that express a saddening second-guessing of actions.
“Beating A Dead Horse” may be a thinly-veiled strike back at the pop-punk movement that Fenix TX was formerly associated with. The song title is a direct comment on the current state of glossy punk, carrying heavy lyrics and guitars that sound like a cross between Face To Face and Deep Purple.
Overall, Lechuza is impressive. The element of re-invention is quite obvious, but who ever said that Fenix TX could only make two-minute pop track? Glossy punk has definitely peaked and the public is looking for a harder-edged sound. That is what Fenix TX is offering. “Lechuza” is honest and aimed towards a demographic that appreciates good music, not a bunch of potty jokes. Blink 182 should be taking notes.