A strong frontman goes a long way. You’ve got to have some serious cojones to stand alone, sans instrument, and successfully front a punk band. The OBN in OBN IIIs, Orville Neeley, does it naturally.

The Austin, Texas band’s self-titled sophomore LP builds on the chest-puffed toughness of its predecessor The One and Only for an even haughtier assault. Neeley and company stretch the boundaries of punk with a generally cleaner, less distorted sound. They’ve also taken a little trip through the classic rock realm, returning with a couple of tempered, almost bluesy nuances as souvenirs.

The most obvious of those is “Stick and Move,” a patient, toe-deep dip into waters much stiller than the wild punk OBN IIIs has consistently offered. The guitar is fast-fingered and intricate but slow, a nice chill between the furious fuss that comes before and after. On the album’s tail-end, “Left Hand Path” continues in the same vein, a harmonica-accented tune better served by listeners with to-the-beat head nods than rambunctious hopping and flailing.

Additions aside, it’s very much still the rowdy stompers like “You Wanna Bitch,” “Driving Dream” and “Off the Grid” that are most fitting and natural for the band. Neeley employs his signature asides generously throughout the album, most of which are used for chastising. There’s something charismatic about the way Neeley criticizes – it’s his strong suit. When he mutters, “Your stupid life” on “You Wanna Bitch,” a vision of your jerk coworker involuntary pops into your head and a silent rapport with Neeley instantly materializes. The mom references on “So What if We Die” come off comedic, not personal.

Even if you opt to take Neeley’s crass commentary to heart, you aren’t left with your chin on your chest. It’s more likely they’ll evoke a bewildering, small-scale riot in which you to storm out of your office – after in a dramatic desk-destroying fury, of course.

[Tic Tac Totally]