Kurt Vile & the Violators
Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN - 5/12
Written by: PP on 24/09/2012 09:12:59
NOFX rarely disappoint on record, yet 2009's "Coaster" felt like a half-assed tribute to the style they purveyed in the 90s. It was a weird shift away from their tight and technically sound skate punk found on their other albums from the 00s, and ended up sounding a lot like "Heavy Petting Zoo", the odd one out from their 90s hit parade. While it was a decent album no doubt, it lacked the same flair and consistency as we've grown to expect from the band in the past. What's more, it put a considerable distance to the previous career-defining album by the band, 2003's "The War On Errorism", which was to 00s punk rock what "Punk In Drublic" was to the 90s: a seminal record that re-defined the punk rock landscape by inspiring a wave of young kids to start their own bands.
"Self/Entitled", on the other hand, sees the band return to form, and is arguably their best album since "...Errorism". It presents a near-perfect mixture of their trademark skate punk of the modern era and their rumbling and simplistic, distortion-laden sound of the 90s, but most importantly, it contains the best individual NOFX songs we've heard in ages.
As a prelude of things to come, the record opens with what is quite possibly the best NOFX riff in at least a decade, a one-minute bravado of skate punk and quintessentially NOFX-style blend of technical bass and guitar, before continuing with the catchiest NOFX vocal/melody combo since the overtly poppy "Franco Un-American". Dubbed "72 Hookers", it's a balls-of-steel type of song to open your album with that's released on September 11th, considering its inflammatory, yet pointedly sharp and intelligent criticism (the juvenile solution aside) of the Islamic culture:
"They don't hate us. They just hate their lives, and desperate people learn to despise. The suicidals don't want a coup, they don't wanna blow up, they just want their 72. [...] Terrorists are 16-year-old kids who were promised Jihad sex. Maybe if they could see a woman's face, they might not get onto that plane with a bomb in their suitcase."
It's a signal of a darker album thematically, because essentially, "Self/Entitled" is the most politically charged NOFX album since "...Errorism". Political and social commentary has always been a topic close to Fat Mike's heart, and as such, this album contains some of his best and smartest lyricism. "Ronnie & Mags", for example, is a criticism of the Reagan and Thatcher politics that's gaining traction again in the eve of the upcoming US election where the choice seems to be between regressing to Reaganomics or progressing the US towards the level of welfare that the rest of the of civilized world already enjoys. "She Didn't Lose Her Baby", which is as classic NOFX as it gets sound-wise, discusses suicide attempts and their aftermath, and "This Machine Is 4" is about the rise of the corporatoracy. Not to even mention the anti-Christian message on "Xmas Has Been X'd".
All of this is probably a result of the messy divorce of Fat Mike and his wife that took place a few years ago, which is discussed in a brilliantly creative manner on "I've Got One Jealous Again, Again", which effectively mirrors "I've Got Two Jealous Agains" from "War On Errorism". The latter track was about Fat Mike falling in love with his wife because of the records she owned were many of the same ones that he treasured the most, where he sings "so now we've got two 'Killing Jokes', we've got two 'Declines', we've got two 'Jealous Agains'" among other records. Now, the song starts with "I got one 'Jealous Again', again, I got one 'Killing Joke'" and goes through a similar process of listing records he got to keep versus the ones he had to give away: "Take your Guns N Roses with the Robert Williams cover, and I'll take the Fugazi picture disc".
But thematics and the excellent lyricism aside, the riffs are some of the tightest and most refreshing NOFX have come up with recently. They're a tell-tale sign of a revitalized band that has come to terms with their prestigious heritage and have re-discovered their old songwriting prowess in 2012. There was a real danger that with "Self/Entitled" NOFX was going to become one of those bands who released a bunch of great records a decade or two ago and now are just releasing new ones to keep touring, but fortunately the opposite is the case. "Self/Entitled" is a shoe-in candidate for one of the best punk rock albums in 2012.
Download: 72 Hookers, She Didn't Lose Her Baby, Secret Society, Down With The Ship
For the fans of: Bad Religion, Lagwagon, Descendents
Release date 11.09.2012
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