It's not apparent until about halfway through this record -- and even then only if you've been following the printed lyrics -- that No Place Else to Go is a concept record that actually tells a story. Sure, the concept -- a relationship gone bad -- isn't a new one, and each song on the CD follows a narrative story line that's all too familiar to young lovers, stretching from initial euphoria to bitterness and resignation. But here's where No Place Else to Go veers from the pack -- to the list above, you can add terrible tragedy, and the finding of inner peace. That's because, unlike most relationships records, this one ends up with the girlfriend on Prozac and then dead, and lucky for us, it makes for a better story.
Though O'Doyle Rules is loosely categorizable as a pop-punk band -- and thus part of what is possibly the most annoying genre in contemporary rock -- it's heartening to report that the band happily eschews the whiny vocals and nursery-rhyme rhythms of the Blinks and Charlottes of the world. Furthermore, guitarist-singer Scott Doyle's power chords are too meaty for mall punk; hell, his riffage on songs like "Died Smiling and a Failure," "Girlfriend in a Coffin" and "The Way You Make Me Feel" calls to mind the likes of Megadeth and Crazy Horse.
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The lyrics on No Place Else to Go are actually insightful. Whether our stung-by-love narrator suffers initial shock on "Never Known," decides to drown his sorrows across the border in "Mexico" or battle the voices in his head on "We Will Miss You," the words will ring true to anyone who's experienced the dissolution of an intense romance. The record's one cover, a version of the Dead Milkmen's "Punk Rock Girl," is the sole joyous moment on the record -- but it's only a precursor to tragedy. No Place Else to Go is a solid listen, and it will certainly make you feel better about your own romantic entanglements.