Review Summary: The Vandals' "Live Fast, Diarrhea" is a happy-go-lucky punk album with a focus on having fun and being outrageous. It's a little more than fast beats and silly lyrics from the Orange County legends.2 of 2 thought this review was well written
I lent my copy of The Vandals’ “Live Fast Diarrhea” to a swine who rode my bus when I was in the seventh grade. Given my apparent animosity toward the aforementioned jerk bag, you may have already figured out that he kept the copy of the album that I kindly lent him for a weekend. With my jewel case empty and temper flaring, I decided to track down the thief. Upon arrival to his surprisingly empty house, I questioned his neighbor who explained that the kid’s parents split up and he was moved out of town. I thought to myself, “Let the Bad Times Roll.”
For the next few weeks I became obsessed with The Vandals. I would arrive home after the school bus ride and play my ripped copy of “Live Fast Diarrhea.” I listened to the album primarily because it was fun, energetic, and very different from other punk bands that I was beginning to hear. Josh Freese, the drummer of The Vandals, is acclaimed for his independent work and work with other bands like DEVO, Nine Inch Nails, and most notably, A Perfect Circle. His drum work on the album shines much more than any of the other instrumentation, as well as overshadowing singer Dave Quackenbush’s unique vocals. The beats are of a large variety, rapid, and carry songs that can barely stand on their own because of their clumsy themes.
Being outrageously silly is what makes The Vandals so enjoyable, but some of their song topics are ridiculous. Songs about standing in line, returning an order at the local fast food joint because it is not up to par, and mustaches are not typical approaches to creating entertaining music. Punk music is fast, but when it is asinine it becomes very unattractive. However, the sincere approach that The Vandals take to entertaining their audience demonstrates that the music is about being nonsensical and having a good time acting a fool. I appreciated that perspective as a teenager in middle school and I still appreciate that perspective while in college. Also, the music for each of the ridiculous songs makes for a good listen regardless of the subject matter. That’s the allure of The Vandals, because they can play fast, cohesive, and amusing punk rock underneath comedic lyrics.
However, the Vandals contribute material to the album that is relevant to life with songs like “I Have a Date” and “Happy Birthday to Me.” “I Have a Date” is easily the best song on the album and qualifies as a punk classic. It is a definitive punk rock love song that traverses genre boundaries in terms of appreciation. My anticipation of my birthdays for the past six years has been enhanced because of hearing “Happy Birthday to Me.” These songs are incredible and add a lot of weight to making the album enjoyable. The “punk’d” out version of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” is also a great track that will make even the hardest of punks smile (maybe). “Let the Bad Times Roll,” as I mentioned earlier, carries a theme of “no worries, be happy,” because life goes on. Not strikingly original, but conveyed uniquely through The Vandals’ punk prowess. After the first song, it quickly becomes evident that The Vandals are a happy punk band with a humorous and sometimes cynical edge.
“Live Fast Diarrhea” can be deemed ridiculous upon a first listen because of its absurd topics, but due to the attitude of The Vandals and their lighthearted approach to punk rock, the album provides for a very satisfying listen. I may even purchase the album once again.