Review Summary: A quintessential piece of 90's ska.
In the mid nineties, Ska was the latest mainstream darling. Songs like Less Than Jake's "Dopeman", Save Ferris' cover of "Come On Eileen" and Reel Big Fish's "Sellout" were on endless repeat on Alternative Rock radio and No Doubt had yet to fall vitctim to Gwen Stafani's love of tasteless pop. Things were looking bright for the Thrid-Wave. In 1997 The Mighty Mighty Bosstones released their breakthrough album Let's Face It
. Propelled by the success of the single "The Impression That I Get", Let's Face It
toned down the punk and upped the pop making it one of the best chill out album's of the decade.
The album's opener "Noise Brigade" showcases everything that the Bosstone's are about in a scant two minutes. The rasp in Dicky Barrett's gravelly voice has been dialed back when compared to their earlier work making him understandable but still keeping enough of the smoky grit and bar room sneer to keep his ties to the punk scene. Upstroked chicken scratch chords set the pace for Barrett's vocals as an upswell of triumphant brass ushers in a rising chorus of "Woah oh oh's and "do do da do do's". This sound is heard through out the entirety of Lets Face It
and is perfected on "The Impression That I Get". The intro to "The Impression That I Get", with it's surfy reverb drenched upbeat chords and swelling brass, is instantly recognizible to anyone that has listened to Alternative Rock radio. As the brass subsides a nimble bass line feeds its way through the verse as the guitar kicks into distorted power chords for the anthemic chorus where Dicky Barrett belts out "...Never had to knock on wood!". "The Bug That Bit Me" closes of the flawless first half of Let's Face It
by showing off a bit of The Bosstones punk influence. Barrett brings back the intesity and rasp of his past for a fast, power chord romp that sounds like the Ska-punk little brother of Face To Face.
The album's second half continues in a heavier fashion than the first. "Nevermind Me" is a rough and tumble rocker that brings to mind the best of Hot Water Music with roaring power chords and a simple but effective lead riff that ties together the song. The brass is delegated to the back burner giving Barrett's vocals the opportunity to take center stage and he doesn't dissapoint. "Desensitized" is just over two minutes of the The Bosstones rocking out balls to the wall. Barrett spits out a biting and socially aware diatribe against the media as the drums furiously pounds away a punk beat and the guitars turn things up to eleven. Let's Face It
comes to a close with "1-2-8". "1-2-8" mixes the more in your face sounds of the album's second half with the radio friendly pop hooks of the first. Boarderline yelled vocals and thrashing chords let up in to a gentle chorus of "1, 2 what's in the stew/ 3, 4 no one's really sure/ 5, 6 what's in the mix" before returning back to the fury of heavy chords. This creates a rollercoaster ride that is mile a minute intesity one moment and smooth pop hooks the next.
Let's Face It
shows The Mighty Mighty Bosstones at the top of their game and is one of the greatest ska-punk albums to come out of the nineties. Sonically devided into two parts, Let's Face It
has something for everyone. Those who still fondly remember the pop friendly ska of "The Impression That I Get" will find plenty of hooks and clever wit in the album's first half, while those looking for something that packs more of a punch will get a kick out of the ska-punk of the closing half.