Review Summary: No Use for a Name's 4th and possibly best album, !Leche Con Carne!, whill not disappoint with it's deep lyrics, melodic singing, top notch guitar work and superb drumming.
Depending on what you think of No Use for a Name now, one cannot ignore their work in the 90's, especially if you love California punk. !Leche Con Carne! was NUFAN's breakthrough in the pop punk genre, and is still considered some of the group's best work.
Although this was NUFAN's second album on Fat Wreck Chords, I think it was NUFAN's first "real album." Up to this album, the band was struggling to find a genre that suited them best. Their first 3 albums dipped into the hardcore punk category. I remember a common criticism for them at the time was that they Bad Religion rip offs. Hell, at the time, every narrow minded reviewer compared EVERY punk rock band in the early 1990's to either Bad Religion or NOFX, which wasn't fair to any of the bands.
But with !Leche Con Carne!, the band finally found their true style. NUFAN became a leader in the Fat Wreck crowd, with their mid tempo guitars, multi-layed vocals, great singing and deep lyrics. This album got NUFAN pretty big for an independent band, and even toured with the Offspring for their Smash Tour. Although they never got as big as Green Day or Offspring, this band still has a huge following.
The album starts off with "Justified Black Eye", which is an excellent opener. This song alones kills any ideas that this album is just a "NOFX clone with silly song subjects." The song is about physical abuse, which isn't funny. The song itself is filled with deep lyrics and great muscianship.
Lead singer Tony Sly shines as a great vocalist. Even in today's world, his voice is still great, and has even released a solo album. His vocals shine on tracks like "Leave It Behind", "Alone" and the Bob Marley cover "Redemption Song." His voice is similar to that of Greg Gaffin, but not in a bad way. It still sounds very different.
The lyrics on this album are serious. I wouldn't say there is a single song on this album that will make you smile, unless that smile comes from nostalgia or the fact the album kicks ass. The lyrics deal with society in general, much like bands like Bad religion, Pennywise and Offspring were doing at the time. But NUFAN put a darker twist on their songs.
"Fatal Flu" is about being HIV positive, and the prejudice that revolves around that person due to ignorrance. "51 Days" is about the Waco Siege and the Branch Davidians being decieved by a lying maniac that led to all his followers dying. "Straight from the Jacket" is about not being accepted by your step parents (or parents in general) and being sent to a mental asylum for being yourself. "Fields of Agony" is an anti war anthem, accusing the USA of not giving both sides of the story. As you'd expect, the silliest thing about this album is the cover.
The guitar work on this album is very good and memorable. The Guitar riffs on "Soulmate", "Exit" and "Alone" are as catchy as they are unforgetable. The solos on "Wood", "Fatal Flu" and "Straight from the Jacket" are pretty epic to say the least. I will not exaggerate when i say they're among the best solos in the pop punk genre.
After the last track, NUFAN plays a hidden track that is a medley of quick covers that include bands like Aereosmith, Green Day, David bowie, Twited Sister, The Cars and more.
!Leche Con Carne! is an excellent album in the pop punk genre. Although many seem to agree with me, I was disappointed to not see an album review on this site. That is until now, that this piece of art from California is finally getting some more credit.