After pulling the ever-popular “fire your entire lineup” trick, Powerman 5000 put out this album in 2003. It’s more of a straight-ahead alternative rock/punk rock blend, although not overt enough to belong to either genre.

I miss their old sound, but this isn’t bad. It doesn’t have anything as good as “When Worlds Collide” or “Danger is Go”, and in general it plays it a bit too safe. Conceptually, the band explored the stars. Musically, they wore knee pads and padded helmets. In their quest to not put a foot wrong, they don’t particularly put a foot right, with everything staying at a designated level of inoffensive.

Highlights are “Free”, “Action”, “Top of the World”, and “A is for Apathy,” which are all catchy and hard-rocking. “The Shape of Things to Come” is weird and trippy. When I first listened to it the final couple of minutes were buried under a wall of clicks and distortion. I actually got excited, thinking I was listening to some kind of experimental sonic collage. Turns out the mp3 had become had become corrupt.

Carbon-copy an idea enough times and it eventually degrades. This is seen here with some harmless but really boring songs like “Hey, It’s Nuthin'” or “I Knew it Was Right”…I can’t even distinguish their titles. “Stereotype” is the same, but remove the “harmless” part. It’s fucking horrible. It’s like a warmup for the all-out country song on their next album.

But basically Transform is OK and interesting. They rounded everything out and made it all sound the same, but it’s not awful. Strategically apply the skip button and it’s actually a good CD.

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