Less Than Jake

Silver Linings

Written by: MAK on 30/12/2020 02:04:07

Less than Jake have been genre leaders of the ska-punk scene for the best part of 30 years now, and while their best days are far behind them, the Gainsville crew aren’t stopping as they introduce us to studio album number nine, “Silver Linings”. Not including all the B-sides releases and covers albums. One big change to the core set up of "Silver Linings" would be the departure of founding drummer, Vinnie Fiorello, who was also a key lyricist on previous releases. Former roadie Matt Yonker has since replaced him for this album.

Considering the departure, and that it’s been twenty years since Less Than Jake last truly peaked with “Anthem”. Depending on who you ask, that was their last true ‘great’ album. Everything between that and “Silver Linings” has never truly hit with fans and it resonates massively in most Less Than Jake setlists that definitely focus on the pre-2000 nostalgic hits than newer songs. It does make you wonder what is keeping Less Than Jake going at this point other than to play festivals and earn a living off those classics.

“Silver Linings” doesn’t change much even with the roster swap. The usual Less Than Jake formula of creating uplifting, catchy anthems with nice sing-alongs and perky horn segments. This is after all the bread and butter of the Gainsville band. Songs like “Lie To Me” and “Keep On Chasing” are wonderfully upbeat and are rammed with joyful duel vocal melodies between Roger Lima and Chris DeMakes that lures you right in. Early on we are treated to some of the more engaging chorus hooks by Less Than Jake in the last twenty years. “Anytime Anywhere” and “The Test” reminds us how good the horn section of Less Than Jake has always been, producing some proper pulsing melodies while the likes of “Dear Me” and “Monkey Wrench Myself” pack more punch with double-time beats, bouncier brass hooks and overall more urgent delivery in both songs. The latter feels like a throwback to the mid-90s, leaning more towards the basement ska-punk sound than the pop-punk influences that dominated the Less Than Jake formula as they progressed.

Just as you start to get hope that this could be a really solid album, the back end of the album is where the attention span for this album starts to fade. The somewhat energetic start to the album drops dramatically for some slowed down hits. Immediately it feels that the band have realised they are in their late forties and need to take a breather. “King of the Downside” is a plodding rocker, whereas “Lost At Home” is a chilled out reggae track. They are nice songs, easy listening tracks, but fail to prick your ears and gain your attention. Perhaps the closing track “So Much Less” does as a truly beautiful slow-burner, letting Roger Lima’s soulful voice captivate you, topped off by a lovely sax solo by Peter Wasilewski.

Overall, “Silver Linings” is an alright album, but it’s not a classic by any stretch. I think all of the songs are nice, cheerful and catchy. However, when holding them up to the current back catalogue, there aren’t many songs I’d trade-in on a live setlist. “Lie To Me” is up there thanks to Roger Lima’s ever so perky singing voice, and “Monkey Wrench Myself” for the nostalgia trip, a couple of others for a bit of a change from the old, but that’s it. If you like your brass-filled ska-punk or even just happy-sounding songs then this album is worth a listen for sure, there is no denying that it does that job well. But comparing these genre greats to emerging ska bands, the likes of Kill Lincoln and Call Me Malcolm are running circles around Less Than Jake at songwriting right now.

7

Download: Lie To Me, Monkey Wrench Myself, So Much Less
For The Fans Of: Kill Lincoln, Reel Big Fish, Call Me Malcolm
Listen: Facebook

Release date 11.12.2020
Pure Noise Records

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