Mikey Erg's Solo Debut, 'Tentative Decisions,' Is so Much More Than a Pop Punk Album

The man who plays in a near-endless list of bands was clearly keeping his best songs for himself. Listen to the whole thing.

Jun 16 2016, 2:40pm

Photo: Toni Skotcher

It must be tough to write pop punk songs when you’re Mikey Erg. That sounds like a joke, given that he’s the undisputed virtuoso of the genre, playing or having played in a near-endless list of pop punk bands, from The Copyrights to his legendary (recently reunited) three-piece outfit, The Ergs!. But that’s exactly why it must be so hard—there isn’t a riff, melody, or lyrical device the guy hasn’t heard a zillion times already. And then there’s the added hindrance of how inherently silly it is to write goofy pop punk songs about serious feelings in the first place. Erg is acutely aware of how daunting and trite the process of writing pop punk songs is when it’s all been done before, but on his debut solo album, Tentative Decisions, he puts it all aside, and says: I can do it better.

Tentative Decisions sees Erg stepping up his game and throwing his beanie hat into the ring to be considered as a serious songwriter in a way he’s never done before. He delves into deeper and often times darker places—something that hadn’t yet been fully realized in his prolific career. He dabbles with reoccurring themes and some good old-fashioned self-awareness, with lines like, “It’s the same old song again,” before continuing: “I wish you loved me and blah blah blah and I wasn’t lonely and blah blah blah.”

The album sees Erg stepping out of his comfort zone musically, as well. Erg, the product of a childhood spent absorbing the catchy hooks of 50s and 60s doo-wop groups, occasionally eschews the traditional verse-chorus-verse structure he’s come to master over the years. “Scenic Turnout,” for example, the most sinister song on the record, doesn’t even employ a chorus.

It almost feels like a misnomer to label Tentative Decisions a “pop punk” record. Clearly, Erg is either ardently trying to expand the confines of the genre or he’s reaching for something greater entirely. Either way, it’s time to give this songwriter his due.

Listen to Tentative Decisions below. The album is out on June 24 via Don Giovanni Records.