Review Summary: NOFX being NOFX
Formed in 1983, NOFX have spent the last two and a half decades churning out record after record of sometimes political, sometimes raucous, and usually drunken punk. Much like long running So-Cal peers Bad Religion, Fat Mike and co. have become content with the sounds that have come to personify their career. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, NOFX continue to kick out the jams in the same straight forward fashion as they did on 1994's Punk In Drublic
and 1997's So Long And Thanks For All The Shoes
, although with a tad bit less intensity. Taking this into consideration, it would be a smart bet to say that Coaster
, the band's twelfth album, will just be another collection of the same old self deprecating humor and linear politics. You know what? You'd be right.
Luckily for NOFX, this is a good thing. Even though they have stuck to the same formula for as long as most of the band's current generation of fans have been alive, they do it pretty damn well. Coaster
is no exception. Everything that one would expect to find on a NOFX album is contained in its thirty-three minute run time. Short, feel good, mini anthems filled with Fat Mike's trademark ruminations on substance abuse (“The Quitter”), politics (“We Called It America”), and religion (“Best God In Show”). While the general template of up-tempo punk beat, power chords and the occasional El Hefe solo remains relatively unchanged, Fat Mike's outlook has changed to match his age. At 42 years old, he still sings about the finer things in life: drugs, alcohol, awkward social situations with famous lesbians due to said drugs and alcohol (“Creeping Out Sarah”), but now with a clear recollection that weighs the good with the bad. This leads to the occasional brake in Mike's usual existentialism through schoolboy humor approach with tracks like the surprisingly open “My Orphan Year” and the bittersweet nostalgia of “One Million Coasters”.
Despite this sometimes reflective lyrical approach, the best moments on Coaster
are classic NOFX, as seen in the album's best track “Eddie, Bruce and Paul”. “Eddie, Bruce and Paul” is a humorous retelling of Paul DiAnno's departure from metal legends Iron Maiden that witnesses the rebirth of El Hefe. He flat out rips, laying down impressive lead fills, and anchoring the song with a solo that lives up to the association with the song's subject matter. Fat Mike also takes a few jabs at DiAnno's replacement, the almighty Bruce Dickinson, as he spits out “Kudos to Paul, **** you Bruce/ How you supposed to rock n roll without substance abuse/ number of the beast is in bed with Rob and Judas Priest,” before showing off his pipes with a hilarious display of falsetto. The final result is a wonderfully disrespectful homage.
is NOFX doing what they always have done and, in reality, who would want it any other way? NOFX have become a reassuring constant that is blissfully nostalgic, yet remains fresh and relevant. That's no small feat for a group of middle-aged alcoholics.