If you were a teenager in the mid2000s, you’re probably very familiar with a certain pop punk sound. Bands like Paramore, Panic! At the Disco, Fall Out Boy, and more masterfully honed this beautifully bratty wave of pop punk. Music of this sort was constantly piped through Hot Topics at malls across America and provided the soundtrack to multiple Vans’ Warped Tours. The sound came to be associated with the label that a lot of the bands were signed to: Fueled by Ramen.
Out of the bands signed to the Fueled by Ramen label, Cobra Starship never got as big as some of their contemporaries (Just two Top 40 hits), but, they still put out a serviceable output of music. And one of those albums, Viva La Cobra, released in 2007, still holds up…for the most part, that is.
From the overly long titles to the bragging lyrics to the perfectly serviceable dance music, Viva La Cobra is a practically pitch-perfect pop punk album. The songs are all amazingly danceable, with a sharply honed dance and slightly electronic sound. Like most Fueled by Ramen songs of the era, the lyrics are so beautifully narcissistic, focusing on the singer above everything else, downright infused with braggadocio. Very few songs here could be described as ‘slow’. This is Cobra Starship’s party and they’re going to push us through it. The album experiments in other ways, however. “Smile for the Paparazzi” gives a Latin flair to the song while “Kiss My Sass” brings the electronic elements to a new level, giving us a backing that sounds almost chiptune.
Unfortunately, the album is dated in some other regards. Like other songs of this mid-2000s, pop punk Fueled by Ramen era, the entirety of Viva La Cobra is filled with casual misogyny. Women are reduced to people to dance with, to look at, and to have sex with. “Damn You Look Good And I’m Drunk (Scandalous)” is a major offender. What starts off as a fun song with a cute spell the word out bit takes a nose dive right into transphobia and slut-shaming with an absolutely abhorrent spoken word interlude that I can only imagine was trying to be funny at the time. If you decide to take a re-listen, skip this track.
Obviously, not all the songs are amazingly awful. A highlight is the first single, “Guilty Pleasure.” The first lyric is “I came here to make you dance tonight and thankfully, the song lives up to that idea. “Guilty Pleasure” is a well-polished, sharp and stylish, and tightly produced fun dance track. Everything about this song seems tailor made for jumping in place and sweating through your Tripp pants. It’s a perfect concert tune: a singable chorus, a pulsing dance beat, parts where it’s obvious the audience is supposed to shout along with the singer.
If you have even an inkling of nostalgia for mid 2000s pop punk, check out Viva la Cobra. It may not have as much critical acclaim as some other albums of that time, but it is a solidly put together piece of nostalgia from that time. The album as a whole is well-produced with a tight sound and amazingly danceable feel. It is very much of the time, something that people will either love or loathe, but it’s impossible to listen to this album and not have an opinion about it. And really, I’ve a feeling Cobra Starship would want it that way.