on 23 June 2008
The booklet that comes with this CD is now my favourite book of poetry. Vinnie's always been my favourite lyricist, but he's just surpassed himself. I think Less Than Jake should always release albums with some kind of concept (their best CD is Hello Rockview you see, whatever anyone says). When Vinnie's focused on a subject (in this CD Gainsville for the most part) and he's writing about something meaningful to him, something incredible just happens. Many themes run throughout the album, mostly focusing on city life, there's drugs and religion, but many are much closer to Vinnie, just look at Abandon Ship,Handshake... hell the entire middle of the album. And it all climaxes in the final three songs which merge together as a few of the songs on this release do, which seems to be a development on Anthem's final song, and not as people who like to pretend they 'know loads about music' will say, 'a bit like greenday did'. Particularly it all climaxes brilliently with Devil in my DNA which most reviewers seem to be overlooking, but the lyrics in this song just carry so much emotion, and I love the melody that Roger and Chris have given the words. What I love about Hello Rockview and now GNV FLA, aided by the clear messages due to a focused concept, is that listening to it is almost like having an entire novel beamed into your head in just over thirty minutes.
Now I don't want that huge outpour of love to make people think that the only thing worthwile about Less Than Jake is their lyricist. NO NONONONONO. I love ska/punk and Less Than Jake have always done it best, they've moved away from it, and still sounded great in Anthem and IWTOC, but I think ska/punk is where they need to stay. Roger's basslines are great, they were what kept their old albums interesting and varied when the ska sound could become too similar song to song, although the bass seems less prevalent on this disk.
The main complaint I can see from people reviewing this album is that the songs sound too similar it gets monotonous. These people are mostly (if not all) total idiots who have probably only listened to the album once, and not really 'listened' to it at all. That said, they do have a point, of sorts. Hearing some real ska riffs ala losing streak throughout the album was great, but the songs could sometimes drift into generic pop-punk riffs that were pretty unexciting and marred some songs, but this doesn't happen often and chris and co mix it up quite a bit with metal influences and some really 'hooky' (did I just coin that? I don't really like it.) riffs and progressions. Oh crap, I'm making it sound like I know a lot about music, I don't. Less Than Jake guys, feel free to slap me. I think that maybe this was a concious decision in a way, the emphasis of this album, I think, seems to be on the lyrics with the band running through the words without a lot of tinkering around repeating verses and whatnot. The other reason I think that people are getting this 'samey' vibe is that while this album has incredible lyrics and some really really great songs, there arn't really many instant all out classics, it's just very very consistant. This is why it ranks only as my third favourite album after Rockview and Losing Streak.
While I'm on a rediculously long rant, I'll go ahead and talk about Less Than Jake's 'sound'. I'm not going to use any of these horrible cliches I see lazy reviewers who obviously made their minds up about the album before they read it and use terrible buzzwords such as 'bouncy', 'fun', 'horn driven', 'adrenalin fuled', or 'skankalicious' or something rediculous, all this rubbish about 'this song is good at a party', that's just insane, I don't listen to Less Than Jake for party music, it's fun and uplifting yes, but I listen to share in the experiences of a man I admire and to listen to good musicions. All that la de da can go to hell.
Here's what Less Than Jake's got going for them: Catchy, upbeat, punk. The best melody based punk you'll find I'll go so far to say. It's not too pop, it's not just noise, and it's not so simple your mentally challenged five year old could play it. Ska, everyone should love ska, but there's not as much of it as you'd think (not saying this is a bad or good thing). Two incredibly talented singers, which is bizaarely rare for a punk band; Roger and Chris compliment each other beautifully. An incredible lyricist. Horns, and damn good players/writers for them.
So here you go, my final stand against people wishing to dismiss this band as frivolous childish, or party music, or whatever. I guess everyone seeing the length of this will think I'm insane. Oh well, at least I just stopped short of burning like a torch, and made a fool out of myslef on the internet instead.