A couple of years ago, Matt Riggle, singer-guitarist for 41 Gorgeous Blocks, seemed to drop out of sight, going from fronting The Fitz at all-ages shows at the Orbit Room to a behind-the-scenes gig recording other bands. While his former bandmates stayed fairly visible (especially Dylan Silvers, now in [DARYL]), Riggle disappeared into a studio. But now he's back--has been, actually, for almost a year--teaming up with another recording engineer, singer-guitarist Deedle Lacour (who owns Deedle's Room, an increasingly popular studio in Arlington). But even with that in mind, it's easy to underestimate a band like 41 Gorgeous Blocks, to dismiss them after hearing one vaguely familiar song. Which, if you start 41 Gorgeous Blocks' debut An Emotional Young Person Like Yourself at the beginning, is exactly what you'll hear.
In fact, it would be harder not to misjudge them after listening to the first two minutes or so of the record, to continue on with both ears and mind open, thinking they might actually be--what's that word? Oh yeah, good. I mean, you've heard it all before: short, fast, melodic songs about girls (most of 'em, anyway). Nothing that the Descendents/ALL camp hasn't been doing for almost two decades. From the opening sound of a guitar pick scraping across the strings that kicks off "Sudden Death" and the album to the dozen start-stop, three-chord, punk-pop songs that follow, 41 Gorgeous Blocks is not about innovation. Even when the group turns/slows down (on the disc-closing "Where's the Insight?"), well, you've heard that too, especially if you've got at least one album by the Mr. T Experience in your collection. And if you're picking up a copy of An Emotional Young Person Like Yourself, it's safe to assume that you do.
For that reason, it's also easy to overlook 41 Gorgeous Blocks. Just starting out, not yet getting prime slots at good clubs, 41 Gorgeous Blocks is just another name in the club listings. An Emotional Young Person Like Yourself has been out for a while, though unless you'd seen the band (not much chance of that yet), you'd probably never know. The band is already starting to work on a follow-up, not waiting for the rest of the area to play catch-up: You missed us the first time. But no one should be looking toward album No. 2 just yet. Even though Emotional Young Person is only 24 minutes short, there's more than enough there. Songs such as "Wise and Me," "Goodbye," and "Rive Song," with their happy-to-be-sad lyrics and smiling rhythms, are enough to make you remember why punk rock is still important. Any band that can do that shouldn't be underestimated or ignored. Cheered is more like it.