While I usually get paid the big bucks to find clever comparisons to existing bands, The Loved Ones have done my work for me. Never has a Thank You list been more revealing. Every group listed (minus Q & Not You) seems directly responsible for shaping The Loved Ones sound. Sometimes with great results, as in the Hot Water Music influence in Chicken; sometimes to dreadfully, embarrassingly bad effect like the Against Me!-inspired Drastic. Alkaline Trio, The Bouncing Souls, and Strike Anywhere leave their mark on this album. Take that how you will. For me, it means another middle-of-the-road punk record with occasional highpoints and just as many troughs. If you had to pick a "punk" band to hate, Loved Ones could never be it. They understand the music they're playing (a rarity in this field), and while they dance the line of Warped Tour fodder they never lower themselves to a purely commercial sound. Close. Real close. But not quite. If The Loved Ones were a snack food they would be Combos. There are cheese elements at work, but it is far from being a pure cheese product such as Cheddar Goldfish. Double standards are a bitch. I must hear dozens of metal bands with lyrics that make The Loved Ones' look like a college paper on metaphysics, but because I can actually make out what The Loved Ones are saying during songs, they have opened themselves up to greater criticism. This effort is lyrically lopsided. Some songs speak in plain English about relatable subject matter. Other songs (Drastic stands out as an example) were obviously written by the singer's angst-filled little brother during a poetry exercise in summer school for the disabled. Maximum sing-along, maximum gibberish. There are so many ways to approach the reviewing process. Is it fair to mention members past bands Is it fair to place any expectations on them because of past bands If, in your opinion, it is NOT fair, please skip to the BOTTOM LINE portion of this review. The rest of you: The Loved Ones are former members of Kid Dynamite and Trial By Fire. THIS IS NOWHERE NEAR AS GOOD AS KID DYNAMITE OR TRIAL BY FIRE. If you enter this with the expectation that it is, your heart will be dashed against the rocks, spit upon, and used as a hacky-sack/colostomy bag. Bottom Line: While not original enough to stand on its own and without the virtuosity to make it stand out within its genre, The Loved Ones S/T is still good. Just not great. Maybe next time.