Less Than Jake
GNV FLA


4.5
superb

Review

by Dan Smith USER (74 Reviews)
June 24th, 2008 | 19 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Everyone's favourite Floridian ska-punks bust out a convincing return-to-form with an invigorating record dedicated to their hometown.

Remember when you were young, and there'd be those horrible occasions where your mum would insist on you looking smart, and being on your best behaviour? Maybe one of those awkward family gatherings where you'd be made to wear your best shirt - y'know, that one with the itchy collar and sleeves that were always too long. Maybe even a tie to add insult to injury. You'd be sat there for hours, bored and frustrated, acting all unassuming and polite to people you can't stand; all the while those same people, seemingly ignorant, commenting on how "the kid is so adorable!"

Seems Less Than Jake have spent the last few years in something of a similar situation, enduring a second spell among the ranks of a major label. Only recently, bassist/vocalist Roger let it slip in a video interview that Warner Bros. had hinted to the band "if [the band] kept going in that fast punk rock horn direction, that would be bad." Suddenly, the three records they put out on Warners (Anthem, B is for B-Sides and In With the Out Crowd) are put into perspective - yes, the band honed their ability to write poppy hooks and radio-friendly songs, but the records in question, despite their many highlights, lacked a certain energy and familiar charm, that spark that sets LTJ apart from the pack. Turns out all along that Mr. and Mrs. Record Executive were dressing their newly adopted sons up in a stifling outfit fit for the most MTV-friendly of pop-punk bands.

Well, GNV FLA is the sound that accompanies LTJ tearing off the tie, rolling up their sleeves, and storming out of the family gathering, having told Uncle Ed exactly how shit his disco is. Released on the band's own Sleep It Off Records label, the album sees Less Than Jake taking the pop sensibilities of their last three records, and reintroducing the energy and sass of their older material - the ska parts are bouncier, the basslines and drumming more frantic, the riffs chunkier, and most importantly - after having been almost completely relegated from the mix on In With the Out Crowd - the horns are back with a vengeance!!! Chris and Roger have upped the ante in the vocal department; for what seems like the first time in the band's career, they've split vocal duties pretty much equally, often trading off line-for-line within a single verse or chorus, and with the added bonus that you're never more than a few seconds away from hearing the two team up for a sublime two-part vocal harmony.

What's most intriguing about the album is it's lyrical focus. LTJ have spent a significant part of their career singing about their hometown of Gainesville Florida (if it isn't already obvious, GNV FLA is the area code for the city), but combined with the darker lyrical route the band took with Anthem, the result here is a brutally honest social commentary on the decline of Gainesville and Florida in general. Lines like "The city's skyline hasn't looked the same, since the boom in South Florida's real estate," "Lion City sirens scream the night away, there's an overdose on 8th, and he's wearing a blue face," and "When is common sense too much to ask, and when did consequences get left in the past?" are just a few examples of the righteous indignation the band are harbouring towards the way their beloved city is being run into the ground. It's clearly a subject the band have been deliberating over for some time, having touched on themes of urban decay in "Lockdown" twelve years ago, but here, spread across a whole album, it provides a unifying concept that binds the songs together without taking away from the main point of the record - the music.

From the laid back ska-reggae opener "City of Gainesville" to the record's furious conclusion in "Devil in My DNA," the songs cover all the bases you'd expect - thunderous melodic punk workouts ("The State of Florida," and "Settling Son" both of which showcase Chris' lead guitar abilities nicely), horn-driven rockers (lead single "Does the Lion City Still Roar?" and "Golden Age of My Negative Ways"), bouncy ska numbers ("The Space They Can't Touch" and UK bonus track "Antidote for the Underdog"), and some which combine LTJ's whole range of styles ("Handshake Meet Pokerface" and "Conviction Notice"). With the overall mood and feel of the album echoing 2000's career-highlight Borders and Boundaries, Matt Allison's fantastic production job (lying perfectly somewhere between the grit of the band's early recordings and the sheen of the recent material, with a great live feel to it) and the fact that there isn't a single second of filler material to be found here, Less Than Jake have created their most consistent collection of songs, and given more time to sink in, possibly their finest album to date.



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user ratings (189)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
pogostick1 (4)
Less than Jake, back on form, back with a bang....

Serpento (3)
Hello Rock-Two?...

Dr Dave De Sylvia STAFF (4)
GNV FLA could turn out to be the most accessible release of the now-veteran band's career....

Jonzey (4.5)
Less Than Jake are back, correcting most of the mistakes they made with IWTOC....


Comments:Add a Comment 
spoon_of_grimbo
June 24th 2008


2241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i know there's another review with the same rating already, but i'd written most of this before i realised, so fuck it, it's posted now :P

SHOOTME
June 24th 2008


2393 Comments


happy 50th review.

I really want this now.

flamethisuser
June 25th 2008


395 Comments


awesome intro

spoon_of_grimbo
June 25th 2008


2241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks guys! and whoooooooo! hadn't noticed this was my 50th! time for a beer!!!

Jonzey
June 25th 2008


14 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review for a great album. Almost as good as mine

It really is a great album though, I really went off with them after IWTOC, I don't think I ever listened all the way through more than once.

craigy2
June 25th 2008


551 Comments


awesome review! this sounds really, really good. i can't wait to get it! congratulations on reaching the big 5 0 - enjoy that beer!

Serpento
June 25th 2008


2351 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nice choice for a fiftieth, and good to boot. I don't agree with all the 4.5's being thrown around though.

spoon_of_grimbo
June 25th 2008


2241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i dunno man, it seems to get better with every listen. and thanks to the leak, i've had it for a coupla weeks before i bought the CD, so it's had plenty of time to sink in. i think the only thing the older records have over this one is the whole nostalgia value of being the records that got me into ska-punk 5 or 6 years ago. otherwise, this one totally lives up to them.

spoon_of_grimbo
June 25th 2008


2241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

GODDAMN DOUBLE POST!!!This Message Edited On 06.25.08

Jonzey
June 25th 2008


14 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I agree. In most people's minds nothing could ever topple Hello Rockview (or whichever album is their favourite), which means even if a better album came along, they still would rate it lower. Nostalgia plays a huge part in things- you'll notice in most band's cases its their first or sometimes second album which is highest rated and nothing after that could ever possibly live up to it.

For me it's the other way round. I love stuff cos it's new. That said, in most LTJ albums theres a few songs I'll skip, but this one I can listen to from start to finish.

backinhindsight
June 26th 2008


198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Does The Lion City Still Roar? Sounds a lot like a Streetlight Manifesto Song to me

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
June 26th 2008


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Not as good as I was hearing.

cleary21
June 26th 2008


671 Comments


i think the hype in your review was undeserved. I'm not really a fan of this genre, but i found this to be actually really good. It lost alot of momentum in the middle section, but it picked up at the end.

AndyRictor2000
July 14th 2008


146 Comments


It's awesome that everyone is praising this album. I saw them in Orlando a month ago with mustard plug and Chris Demakes was talking this album down.This Message Edited On 07.14.08

Serpento
July 14th 2008


2351 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Maybe because it's not all that great?

Then again mustard plug should have died out years ago in shame

AndyRictor2000
July 14th 2008


146 Comments


nahh, i talked briefly with MP's bassist. They all grew up and got corporate gigs. They just play when they can fit it in. And I can't imagine what "shame" you refer to; they helped build up second wave ska.

Serpento
July 15th 2008


2351 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

And then they completely renounced it and faded into uselessness.

AndyRictor2000
July 17th 2008


146 Comments


lmfao, ignorance is bliss eh serpento?

Serpento
July 18th 2008


2351 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

You tell me.



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