Review Summary: ALL is the Descendents fourth full-length album and one of their best efforts. The album demonstrates a lot of the band's maturity lyrically and explains ALL, the band's philosophy. OverALL the album is clever, catchy, and perhaps even a punk necessity.3 of 3 thought this review was well written
The Descendents are the reason for why I am who I am today, and why I listen to what I listen to. When I first heard Weinerschnitzel in 7th grade, my life changed from fat, glasses-wearing nerd to fat, glasses-wearing nerd who listened to good music. I picked up Milo Goes to College as soon as I could and have grown into a different person (both physically and musically).
I’ve been listening to the Descendents for a good 6 years now and I must say that ALL is one of their finest works. I discovered many of the songs from this album with my purchase of Somery, a Descendents “spoiler.” Although some songs on the album stand out more than others, I would like to go through this album by describing it track by track.
We begin with “ALL” which is a silly song (like most of the work by the Descendents) proclaiming “ALL!” and finishes at a tremendous four seconds. We are then thrust into one of the Descendents’ finest tunes. “Coolidge” epitomizes the struggling individual’s troubles with the opposite sex and with ones self with lyrics like “I looked at my reflection / And I saw a stranger's face / I saw where I was going / And I had to walk away.” I have realized that so much can be written about the lyrics from “Coolidge” and that the song is best summed up by the line “I looked up one day and saw that / It was up to me / You can only be a victim if you /Admit defeat.” It is the perfect song if you are upset or regretting a past relationship decision and want to move on because you need to move on. Musically it is upbeat and catchy - perhaps the most musically alluring song in the Descendents’ catalog - but you need to hear it to believe it.
Then – in case we forgot – we are reminded about ALL with “NO, ALL!” It is a four second masterpiece similar to its predecessor. Immediately after we are relieved with “Van,” a song that gets the entire band involved to allow listeners to better understand life on the road. It is by no means a serious song, laced with lines like “Here in my van / I can beat my small cock / Fart on your face / Sleep on a loaf.” Surely you get the picture. “Cameage” follows “Van,” somewhat randomly, as “Cameage” is a song about a dejected youth who just had his eyes opened to the world through a very short-lived relationship. “Did I ever tell you how much I love to hold you / I didn't know they came like that,” is a straightforward lyrical description of much of the song. “Cameage” is overall a song that almost everyone should be able to relate to their first relationship and is made appreciable more so by Milo’s vocals than the music. “Impressions” is about disconnecting from reality into a surreal environment. With a little creative guitar and lyrics like “That could be us / Walking through the garden / Watch the flowers melt together / Boats reflected in the river,” you should not expect too much. However, the music matches well with the mood, so it is still enjoyable. The next song, “Iceman,” is tied to a play by Eugene O’Neill titled “The Iceman Cometh.” You should probably read the play to achieve a full appreciation of the song. Since the lyrics come out of left field (given that the play is not too well known) the song is a little difficult to enjoy at first, but can grow on you if you like a little heavier feel to your punk rock. “Jealous of the World” is a very simple song that demonstrates good bands can play mediocre songs. Actually, the song is not too bad because some lyrics reflect everyday angst. Musically the song is nothing special.
Okay, now for the best stuff money can buy. “Clean Sheets” is a punk rock love classic; the memories of cheating girlfriends and boyfriends are sung through the chorus. “Even thought you'll never come clean / you know it's true / Those sheets are dirty / And so are you.” The song is even mentioned in Good Riddance’s “Not With Him,” which starts off similarly to “Clean Sheets.” Anyway, with “Clean Sheets” you will discover another Descendents work that exceeds expectations for a love song. It is just spectacular.
My favorite song on the album is “Pep Talk,” for sentimental reasons. If you feel that you will never find a girl that made you as happy as your last, or if you have lost confidence through the failure of another relationship, or even if you feel that the loss of your love was your only chance at getting laid, you are in need of this song. The lyrics speak for themselves, which state “I know what you're thinking ... you'll never find another / And even if you did, well, you couldn't love her / But out there somewhere is the person, place or thing / That you need to make you believe in you.” It single-handedly took me out of a funk and placed me back into the enjoyable life that I had been living prior to my relationship. It is a great piece of music and if you relate to it, it is even better.
After “Pep Talk” we are left “All-O-Gistics,” “Schizophrenia,” and “Uranus.” “All-O-Gistics” lays down the laws for the concept of ALL and it is sure fun to pay attention and take notes with rules like “thou shall not suppress flatulence” and “thou shall not commit adulthood.” “Schizophrenia” is a really long song that talks about the end result of life. It sums up a personal reflection from someone who understand where the road of life leads: to death. Not as uplifting as the rest of the album. “Uranus” is an instrumental that can be tolerated and even enjoyed if the mood is right. It is not the best of the Descendents’ musical talent poured out, but it is entertaining nevertheless. It has a feeling of discontinuity from the rest of the album but is at least recognizable and enjoyable to Descendents fans because of the musical style. It serves as an adequate ending to a great album.
This was my first review and I hope it conveyed enough about the album that you are encouraged to make a decision about purchasing ALL.