When Sandi Thom warbled that she wished she was, ‘a punk rocker with flowers in [her] hair’ (her words, not mine), there suddenly erupted some serious issues in the international music scene. Firstly, why Sandi connected flowers with the pierced noses and spiked hair of the children of Iggy Pop and Sid Vicious is an utter mystery. Perhaps she had spent too long eating daffodils.
The second, and infinitely more important issue, is was what on earth had happened to international punk? The Ramones are long gone, The Clash fell apart, and Green Day has become reflective and melodic in their old age. We have needed an album to smash down the walls of mediocrity for years, and in NOFX’s Self Entitled, the world of music has found an album to explode the eardrums and bring stereos to their knees.
Basssit Fat Mike reveals that the album is designed to be considered as a direct follow-up to 2009’s Coaster, and despite having taken a year to materialise, it more than lives up to the accolade.
The record opens up a distinctly – and some might say controversial – political message, as the throbbing guitars and driving drums of 72 Hookers slams Islamist suicide bombing on the Western world.
The punchy theme rolls on in the second track, I Believe in Goodness, albeit with a distinctly lighter theme. The album’s single, Ronnie and Mags, is not the strongest offering the band has ever released, but a distinct highlight is found in She Didn’t Lose Her Baby (echoing My Orphan Year off Coaster). The track exudes maturity and consideration, and has a sombre edge that is more than carried by an album of this calibre. Secret Society is a fun but forgettable track, while the album is padded out by I, Fatty and the rocker Cell Out.
Down with the Ship is one of the strongest tracks on the album, opening with an explosive guitar riff and backed up by an enjoyable storyline. Next up is My Sycophant Others, an unusually personal offering for the genre, while This Machine Is 4 is most memorable for the soaring lead guitar in the mid-section.
Next up is I’ve Got One Jealous Again, Again, but including a ponderous ballad (can you have a punk ballad?) doesn’t really cut it. Things return to normal at the end, as Xmas Has Been X’ed rounds the album off with an amusing and old school exhibition of six-string punk rock.
All in all, a competent and much-needed release from L.A’s underground heroes. I only wish they’d taken a little more time on the quality of production, as then we’d have a truly cracking album to end a summer defined by tedious releases.
Tracks to Download: 72 Hookers
If you liked this, check out: Coaster