MEGA are an Italian punk rock band formed in Monza in 2011 and, apparently, Narcissistic Punk Rock Disorder is their fourth full-length release! I must admit that I had never heard of MEGA previously; it seems like I come across a new Italian pop-punk band every week. From the Italian punk bands that I’ve heard, MEGA stand out, for sure. There is much less of an overt Ramonescore sound to MEGA; although the Ramones have undoubtedly influenced the band, MEGA’s sound comes from a broader sonic church, taking elements of ‘90s pop-punk, Fat Wreck melodic punk and classic power-pop. The LP whizzes by, with most of the tracks clocking in at 2 minutes or less. The whole thing has a ‘90s feel- crunchy guitars, earworm hooks- and I’m reminded of bands like The Methadones, Riverdales or Teen Idols a lot. MEGA uses that same kind of echoe-y production values that the Methadones often do. At the same time, the melodic punk sound has the speed and energy of Bracket or Millencolin.
Upon first listen, Narcissistic Punk Rock Disorder seems a little same-y and doesn’t immediately leap out to you, but there is a lot more going on here than is immediately clear. Alongside the speedy guitars, catchy hooks and crunchy guitars, there is a darker undercurrent to the record; a kind of overall ‘spooky’ feeling without ever going into full-on horror-punk. Nevertheless, I am reminded at times of bands like The Creeps or The Lillingtons on the verses of tracks like “Electric Dreams” or “The Cat O’ Nine Tails”. The former particular recalls the last Lillingtons album somewhat. It helps to differentiate the band and fits contrastingly with the bouncy melodies and ultra-poppy choruses. There is not really a bad song on Narcissistic Punk Rock Disorder, but special mentions must go to “Losers Will Never Win”, a long-lost ‘90s pop-punk track, inspired by Teen Idols, and with great back-up harmonies and a cute punk solo, and closer “Lazers and Ventolin”, a track that is more mid-tempo and slightly longer than the others; the melodies are just delightful and the tune is a toe-tapper if I ever heard one. MEGA’s fourth record is not revolutionary, of course- and which record is in 2019?- but does nevertheless feel exciting while it is burrowing its way into your head, taking as it does inspiration from a refreshing variety of sources.