The Clash. Dead Kennedys. Good Riddance. Pennywise. Rancid. That's what my idea of great punk rock is, and the current MTV inspired pop punk fascination just really gets on my nerves.
But, back in 1997/98 when I was first discovering the poppier side of punk, there were two utterly brilliant albums which for me defined this sound - Millencolin "For Monkeys" and Blink 182 "Cheshire Cat". Well Blink 182 are now responsible for more MTV friendly junk than Offspring and Green Day put together, and the newer Millencolin just seems to have gone the same way as Blink unfortunately.
But let's not detract from this truly great album. Be aware that it's poppy in the sense that there's more melody combined with the traditional punk guitar assault - this is still not traditional radio pop song material.
My favourite tracks are Lozin' Must, Boring Planet, Black Gold, Trendy Winds, Lights Out and my alltime favourite Millencolin song Twenty-Two (I was 21 during '98 and feeling a bit dejected myself). All of these are strong melodic fast punk songs that I'd hope even the most die hard punks could appreciate, and which could hopefully show the Blink/Offspring/Lit/Wheatus etc fans what can really be achieved!!!
While not having quite the traditional "serious punk" lyrical content such as bands like Good Riddance/Pennywise/Clash, they don't quite descend into the puerile i-wanna-get-drunk-college-fratboy junk that the MTV bands (I'm not the biggest fan of MTV you'll ever meet...) often stoop to.
My one issue with this album is the seemingly obligatory joke song Monkey Boogie. It's pretty pointless, but Lagwagon also do it, and so did Blink on Cheshire Cat (all of Blink's stuff nowadays is pretty pointless joke stuff as far as I'm concerned!!)
These days I prefer the bands who can write melodic songs but while still maintaining that harder punk edge. For me the bands who do that the best are Pennywise and Good Riddance (and a South African band called The Vendettas who will never be as big as they deserve to be!!). Bad Religion and (pre-Heavy Petting Zoo) NOFX also do it very well even if NOFX do at times get a bit too jokey for my liking.
Anyway, "For Monkeys" is a great album and will always have a place in my collection, and I hope it can maybe act as a steeping stone for some people towards some more "serious" punk stuff.