Collector’s Edition is the 2021 self-released record from Baltimore Pop Punk powerhouse Subtastics. Musically, the record is Pop Punk with dark humor. Riotous energy and danceable pep abound with a hint of the style of the Cramps; a chorus of woahs with a dash of Halloween. Lyrically, the songs are serious yet playful. Substastics blends meaningful, weighty topics with a tongue-in-cheek delivery and stalwart commitment to fun. It’s almost in defiance of the gravity of the subject matter that they refuse to take themselves seriously. It’s a form of protest that is at the heart of Punk rock: to question what is and is not serious, to rally against conformity in how that message “should” be delivered.
The messages that Subtastics has delivered are ear-wormy hooks that will be replaying through my mind for months to come. For example, I’m going to have a hard time not repeating this line from “Imposter” to myself at work: “They always tell you the best is yet to come. They never tell you the best is giving up.” Similarly, “Ok Boomer” provides the classic Pop Punk gang vocal chanting and it’s difficult to resist joining in to shout “the more you shout it, the more I start to doubt it.” I will never see a baby boomer berating a customer service representative again without hearing that chorus in my head.
“Photinia” is a twist on the get out of your hometown Pop Punk standard that goes a few steps farther by giving you a specific destination and encourages you to get out to a cabin deep in the woods. This track lightheartedly marries Pop Punk fundamentals with climate anxiety and alien invasion. Given the 2021 we’ve all had, waiting out a global emergency in a cabin deep in the woods sounds downright alluring. This track pairs well with “No More Tomorrows” and “Denihilism” to round out the dark, despairing undercurrent to the record.
The record closes with “Baltimore Red” a re-release from their 2016 EP. In the outro we are greeted with maniacal laughter from a deranged villain who is left alone, having destroyed all other living things on earth. The clip is taken from 1974’s “Invasion from Inner Earth” and ties back to the intro (from the same film). Overall this gives the final impression that the dark undercurrent to the record is that we are destroying ourselves from within.