Can’t Fight Robots, the debut album from Arkansas’ Take It Back, finds a good mix between crunch and melody. It draws heavily on bands that defined the punk rock of the 90s like Pennywise and (ironically) Bad Religion and thickens that sound up with more hardcore tendencies. The vocals have a gritty power and the frequent addition of backing vocals outside of the choruses makes for quite a few singalong moments. The guitars might be a little too clean, but their melodic lines are the source of much of the album’s catchiness.
Take It Back takes a few chances on the album. The slow churn of "A Struggle to Stay Standing" exhibits their ability to drive home the point just as much as its faster counterparts. The arena-leaning keyboard part in "Together Burning Bright" and a decidedly non-hardcore guitar riff and piano part in "Lights in This Town" both take a stroll outside the walls that have been constructed over the last 20+ years. Often when bands take these little walks, they seem forced, as if they’re embarrassed to be who they are, but Take It Back seem to be simply following their muse where it leads them. They keep the energy level high across the album, but these little things provide enough variance to avoid being one-dimensional.
Perhaps Take It Back’s biggest strength is their ability to create both hooks and sentiments that stick with you. This isn’t fluffy pop-punk by a long stretch, yet the songs are as catchy as they are aggressive and the message is positive. They’ve created an album that’s inviting because of its emotions, not in spite of them. Can’t Fight Robots leaves us with these words in the final track, "Fill us with passion and burning desire, hearts that are holy." I think the band’s prayers have already been answered.