Belvedere Jehosophat - Tuesday, 27 May 2003
NOFX are one of the few "new school" or, to the new schoolers, "new skool" punk bands that I like. The reason for this is that they, NOFX, consistently (well, after Punk in Drublic anyway) make excellent, amazingly literate punk rock records.
The first single off the album was "Franco Un-American." It's a new-wavy song reminiscent of "Quart in Session" from So Long and Thanks for All the Shoes, and it's an excellent choice for a first single because it sounds so very catchy. I'm sure that having a catchy first single is going to trigger hundreds of idiot-kids around the world to start labelling NOFX a sell-out.
Of course these are the same idiots who are going to pull NOFX up on the fact that they stated circa 1997 that they would never play ska again and yet have decided to have a ska song on the album. Incidentally, Fat Mike (singer for NOFX) deals with that point thus "I guess we still do play ska." He doesn't care and neither should you.
The only reason I'm harping on this is that I've seen negative reviews of the album with the only "coherent" thought in the review being "OMG, I thought that NoFx said they didn"t play ska no more. WTF!!"
Given the album title and album art, I was expecting that the latest NOFX album would be solely dedicated to political issues. I guess I was kind of hoping for NOFX to deliver a "Stations of The Crass" or a "Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables" but, while a good deal of the album is politically focused, there are a few songs with personal overtones and a few with deal with the current punk scene.
The politics aren't merely confined to the songs; the first three pages of the booklet contain a clarification of their politics and an explanation as to why they're so upset. It also demands to know, a la Stars and Stripes of Corruption by the Dead Kennedys, why they are being labelled traitors when they are merely "calling attention to the faults of their government."
The CD comes with a bonus enhanced section. Included in this is a little introduction by Fat Mike and Eric Melvin, the video clip for Franco Un-American, footage of the song "Idiot Son of an Asshole" being played live and, an eight minute trailer for a documentary called "Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election," which deals with the theft of the 2000 election by G.W.. The pictures in the booklet are also pretty politically charged; George W. Bush dressed as a clown, bombs raining down, soldiers, planes, tanks, etc.
NOFX are also tooling around in the studio a little more. For example, in the song '13 stitches', both the high and the low end of the mix have been removed from the drums so that it sounds like they're being played out of a little transistor radio. There are also traces of what sounds like steel drums on "Mattersville", but then, NOFX have used steel drums before, so I guess I'm talking shit.
The best and, incidentally, most moving song on the album is "Whoops, I OD'd." It's not hard to figure out what the song is about and, indeed, the jocular title belies both the seriousness of the song and the feeling of sadness it conveys.
I bought a copy of the album for a friend when I first saw it. I would have bought it for myself but I already had two other CDs selected. His copy came with a free sweatband, mine did not. I can't say I feel ripped off.
I think I'll leave it to Fat Mike to tell you exactly what the album sounds like: "There's a bunch of punk songs and some other kinds of songs..."
That should do it.
I hope that what I have written will be of some assistance.
Update: I have been reliably informed by a friend that there was, in fact, no single: "single? There was a 5track ep. NOFX don't do 'singles.'"
Corrected, all apologies.