Less Than Jake
GNV FLA


4.0
excellent

Review

by Dr Dave De Sylvia STAFF
June 26th, 2008 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: GNV FLA could turn out to be the most accessible release of the now-veteran band's career.

The last time yours truly stumbled upon a fortuitous urban planning reference in song, he was on his fifth or sixth listening of Maximo Park’s Our Earthly Pleasures, one of the standout rock records of 2007. Was your writer to look back, 15 years later, upon a career in his chosen field (needlessly referring to himself in the third-person, one would assume), it’s a safe bet he’d bypass things like property booms and talk about the good shit. Not so for legendary skankin’ Floridians Less Than Jake. GNV FLA, the first new release on their own Sleep It Off Records (distributed by Cooking Vinyl), tackles with admirable honesty the perceived decline of their adopted home city.

Once a hotbed for punk and hardcore music (the city would later give rise to the likes of Against Me! and Hot Water Music), and a city with a unique character of its own, Gainesville has increasingly, in recent years, become a hotbed for property development as generic suburbia replaces the individual character the city used to possess. As co-frontmen Chris Demakes and Roger Manganelli note on ‘The State Of Florida’: “the city’s skyline hasn’t looked the same / since the boom of Florida’s real estate / it’s turning into more than I can take / too much, too soon, too little, too late.” Such observations might seem trivial at first, but for Less Than Jake it’s the symptom of a wider problem within their society: the ruthless pursuit of change, of wealth, success, whatever, without due regard for what’s being lost as a result.

It would be remiss at this point not to turn the analogy back upon the band itself, and there might well be a deal of self-criticism laced within these lyrics. With their Sire Records debut Anthem in 2003, Less Than Jake slowly began to play down the ska elements of their sound, most notably the razor-tight brass section, and became for all intents and purpose a straightforward guitar rock band. In attempting to broaden their sound, Less Than Jake failed to attract a significant new audience, while inadvertently alienating the core audience that had made them a cult success on the fringes of the pop world. The internet release of lead single ‘Does The Lion City Still Roar?’ in May saw a triumphant reversal of this trend, marrying infectious horn melodies with sharp dual-vocals that would suggest nothing had changed in the world of Less Than Jake.

Yet, clearly, the five have been revitalised, in spirit as well as their minds. GNV FLA is arguably their strongest set of songs to date, 14 (15 in the UK) tracks that blend together seamlessly with only the odd lull in quality towards the middle. Short mini-tracks help link up the storytelling nature of the album: ‘The Life Of The Party Has Left The Building,’ which could be favourably compared with one of American Idiot’s numerous segue pieces, lasts barely 40 seconds, but helps bind together the carefree party song ‘This One’s Going To Leave A Bruise’ with the altogether more sinister and aggressive ‘Devil In My DNA’; opening salvo ‘City Of Gainesville’ is the ideal companion piece to barnstormer ‘The State Of Florida,’ settling the album in with a light ska swing before the latter floods the gates with self-aware punk rock aggression and the oldest pun in the book.

Special mention must be made for the horn section- which includes Reel Big Fish’s on-loan trumpeteer Scott Klopfenstein- as their arrangements are every bit as fun and inventive as Streetlight Manifesto’s, and could rival the former for the premier ska-pop album of the past 12 months. If the horn section’s appearance on a couple of tracks- notably ‘This One’s Going To Leave A Bruise’ and ‘Summon Monsters’- seems superfluous, they’re an integral part of each of the album’s highlights. ‘Abandon Ship’ feigns grungy introversion before bristling into an oddly optimistic chorus, during which Chris observes: “[I’m] treading water with weights around my neck / a shipwreck of reckless accidents / overboard and I’m about to quit […] abandon ship ‘cause it’s sinking way too quick.” ‘Conviction Notice’ and ‘Does The Lion City Still Roar?’ see horns evoke the album’s most memorable and recognisable melodies, the former reverting to a hard-nosed pop punk chorus in which Roger “tell[s] ‘em all to go to hell.”

Speaking from the point of view of somebody’s whose closest relationship with Gainesville is a trip to the Everglades and the very helpful Wikipedia article, it’s impressive that GNV FLA manages to be subtly educational without overloading the listener with obscure local references or forcefully projecting the writers’ opinions. Even without that added depth, GNV FLA is a ska-pop album out of the top drawer, and it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if it turned out to be the most accessible release of the now-veteran group’s career.



Recent reviews by this author
And So I Watch You From Afar GangsAll Time Low Dirty Work
Linkin Park A Thousand SunsAdebisi Shank This is the Second Album
AFI Crash Lovefun. Aim and Ignite
user ratings (191)
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?...

Dan Smith (4.5)
Everyone's favourite Floridian ska-punks bust out a convincing return-to-form with an invigorating r...

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


Comments:Add a Comment 
Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
June 26th 2008


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

gainesville fucking sucks.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 26th 2008


15743 Comments


ballstothewall will sick the Metul Mulitia on you

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
June 26th 2008


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I am Florida's lone bright spot.
But seriously, Less than Jake havent been really good now for like 10 years.

spoon_of_grimbo
June 27th 2008


2241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

haha, this kicks my review's ass! i love the opening paragraph. i think you got the singers the right way round for the most part, although i'm almost sure it's Chris that sings "tell 'em all to go to hell" on Conviction Notice.

Serpento
June 27th 2008


2351 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

so like yeah, when i started writing my review, it had no others on there. then my bathroom floor collapsed. i come back and find a grimbo review and a spat review. *disappointed frown*

great review, though.

Mikesn
Emeritus
June 28th 2008


3709 Comments


I love Does the Lion City Still Roar? and the rest of the album seems like it's pretty good, but I'll have to give it a few more listens.

botb
June 28th 2008


9778 Comments


i love these guys so i will be checking this out.

Intransit
June 29th 2008


2797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Dave rating this hire than I has made my world collapse.

Pretty good album, but LTJ will never be better than a 3.5 band for me.

Jonzey
July 3rd 2008


14 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Also I would recommend any Americans try and find a copy of the UK bonus track, on account of it being amazing.

backinhindsight
July 9th 2008


198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think it's stupid that they put out a bonus track for the UK on an album about a US city...

AndyRictor2000
July 14th 2008


146 Comments


hello rockview is their best overall cd. How does this compare to that?

AggravatedYeti
September 3rd 2008


7685 Comments


FL is alright
I still need to check this out.
Nice review.

AaronKhera
November 5th 2008


30 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The albums got some good songs, but it's not as catchy as their previous work.

PanasonicYouth
August 26th 2009


7412 Comments


does the lion city still roar IS SO FUCKING CATCHY

ninjuice
August 26th 2009


6760 Comments


I saw this on Amazon Mp3 for $5 back when I had money but I didn't get it.
I DON'T KNOW WHY

PanasonicYouth
August 26th 2009


7412 Comments


to be completely honest, the only song i can actually listen to is the one mentioned above. it's like fucking crack. i haven't even gotten around to the rest yet.

ninjuice
August 26th 2009


6760 Comments


What about The State of Florida?

PanasonicYouth
August 26th 2009


7412 Comments


that too. is someone sneaking looks at my last.fm?

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
January 7th 2013


20158 Comments


for anybody who might be wondering, their new album sounds pretty solid.

Digging: Johann Sebastian Bach - Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050

Soaringmuse
March 14th 2013


133 Comments


This is where I've lived for the majority of my life...




You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy