Like many adolescents growing up in the mid-to-late 1990s, John Garrighan became enthralled with the skanking sounds of the short-lived ska-core resurgence and formed the Berlin Project. The Pittsburgh-area band hung onto their horns for dear life through the turn of the century and two albums -- Running for the Border and Culture Clash -- before ditching their mighty bosstones for good on 2000's "The Transition" EP.
Now a quintet featuring Garrighan on lead guitar, singer Jon Belan, bassist Chuck Rocka, drummer Nick Revak, and Aaron Mediate handling keyboards, Berlin Project has released its first full-length sans brass, The Things We Say, which zips with a dynamic rock that splits the difference between pop and punk. The punchy chords and breakneck tempos of old-school Blink-182 emerge on "Running in Circles" and "Daydream," while the metronome-precise bounce of MxPx drives "Celebrity," featuring a brief, punk-ified riff on Guns n' Roses' "Sweet Child o' Mine." Don't be fooled by such cheekiness, however: The members of TBP are firmly in touch with their sensitive twentysomething sides, just like one-time stagemates the Ataris and New Found Glory -- especially on "Circles" ("I've been running in circles, trying to win the games you play") and the brief but effective mood piece, "You're Gone" (um, "You're gone").