Review Summary: A good buy, but not the the classic NOFX sound of the 90's, it is surprisingly influenced by metal, and there are few great songs. However, it's essential for any NOFX fan looking to see how they developed as a band.
This was NOFX’s 2nd album, released in 1989, (Liberal Animation was originally released before this, but then re-released in 1991 on Epitaph). It is 12 tracks long, although one of them is a cover of a Fleetwood Mac song, and the album is under 34 minutes long.
This album is just the beginning, it is part of the start of NOFX’s career, and that is reflected in the change of the music they play in terms of hooks, - there are not that many to be found on this album, although in NOFX’s later years there are hooks a-plenty. Lyrically as well, this album is not too strong, although we do see the wicked brand of NOFX humour displayed here, in songs such as “You Drink You Drive You Spill”
NOFX here use lots of metal influenced guitar riffs, far more than on most of their other albums, and this album is far more hardcore / metal influenced than the later works which in turn took a ska and pop feel to them. Examples of this are “Five Feet Under”
and “Scream for Change”
. The former of these has fast, sharp guitar riffs, which to my mind are similar to Metallica; the guitar riffs, not the song as a whole. Infact, it would not be too far astray from the mark to describe this album as a strange Metallica-Offspring hybrid, although far more of the latter than the former. The latter is metallic too, but less so, and has a bizarre interlude partway through the song, which some will find amusing.
“You Drink You Drive You Spill”
and “Drug Free America”
both are typical NOFX humour, the former talking about the perils of drink driving from a unique perspective – how much beer is spilt (I’m not so worried about how many I kill / I’m much more concerned with how much beer I spill), and the second song encourages people to give up drugs, albeit with the sly motive of only using free ones, in a cry for lower drug prices. The first song however, musically, could have come off of a later NOFX album, but the 2nd has far more foreboding, metallic riffs at the beginning and a longer intro than most punk songs have. At 3:43 minutes it’s also quite long for a punk song, and certainly for a NOFX song, bearing in mind “The Decline” was a long way in the future.
is a (more nasal than normal) cry for less state intrusion and more privacy, and again could have come off of a more recent record, as could possibly “Professional Crastination”
, which is an explanation of the band, and many of its fans, and also, many of the people in the world who are NOT fans of the band’s ability to waste time. This melds the two NOFX’s together, because you can still taste the metal influence here, although halfway through, the song slows down and you can see the modern day NOFX’s roots here, in the steady slow down and build up of sound. There is even debatably, a lick of ska in this slowed down part, and it’s one of the best songs here.
“Mean People Suck”
is a song that whilst true in its nature (mean people DO suck) is not a great song here, and the whole first half is an intro. The song only starts its lyrics at the halfway mark, and even then, the lyrics are underdeveloped, informing the listener, unsurprisingly, that “mean people suck”. “Day to Daze”
is a track that whilst engaging lyrically and musically will never feature in any NOFX fans wish list for a live show, because its an average number in comparison to most of their songs.
lyrically is the best track on the album (excluding the amusing “You Drink...”
, condemning racism and fascism alike, and has an occasional jaunty riff, but is not a brilliant song for the music. The title track “S&M Airlines”
is amusing in the lyrics department, but the music doesn’t fit with it so well, almost as if NOFX hadn’t discovered how to pair funny songs with equally funny music, and were forced to put this with the harder style music. The cover of Fleetwood Mac’s song “Go Your Own Way”
is punk-messy, and sprawled everywhere, but that is NOFX adding their own style to the track, and it is useful because it adds some much needed melody to the proceedings, for a punk album to go with the riffage.
The album is difficult to categorise, because it doesn’t sit happily in the punk category, and has metal influences, although it would be frankly ridiculous to label it metal. It is an example of NOFX in the transition stage, on their way to developing a style, their
style that they maintain today.
The best songs on the album are:
“You Drink You Drive You Spill”
and “Go Your Own Way”
, although, in the scheme of things, and for someone looking to chart the development of NOFX as a band, replace the last song with the progressive “Vanilla Sex”