Review Summary: A decent album by ska punk superstars Reel Big Fish, but the low quality of the music makes the album only really worth getting for the real fans.2 of 2 thought this review was well written
Unless you followed ska very closely, you probably didn't hear about Reel Big Fish until 1996's Turn the Radio Off. Many people, even some fans, forget that their first album was actually 1995's Everything Sucks. Its pretty obvious why this album was ignored over the much more successful and well known Turn the Radio Off, but Everything Sucks is actually a decent album.
Released sometime in 1995, this album was very below the radar. Reel Big fish at the time had just recently switched from doing 80's hair band covers to the ska punk band we all know today. The production quality is quite low compared to their later albums off Mojo. Many of the band members were still in high school, and its very different from today's line-up. Lead singer/guitarist Aaron Barrett sounds very different. Its almost like they have a different singer on this album, but no. Its shocking to learn that a mere year later the band would sound so more matured, and not that's not just from higher production quality.
The album opens with "I'm Cool", which is a great ska punk song. Its is kind of a satire of how popular the band will end up becoming. Right from the start, the listener can tell that they are a true ska punk band in not only the sense of sound, but also their funny lyrics and their care free attitudes toward life.
The song writing is more one dimensional than later releases, which is odd, since one would think Reel Big Fish is all about singing silly song subjects. The lyrics are way more childish on Everything Sucks, with songs about partying too much and excessive drinking. Like other bands like the Descendents and early blink-182, they also sing about the awkwardiness of being a teenager and trying to be with the one you love. And then out of nowhere, you get songs about killing someone to be with their girl ("I Want Your Girlffriend to Be My Girlfriend") and stalking a chick ("Skatanic").
Musically, the album is pretty good. The horns on "I'll Never Be", "I'm Cool", "Trendy and "Skatanic" will entertain any ska punk fan. Although the quality is lower, Barrett can still shred on his guitar. Barrett is a very talented guitarist, and the solos on "Beer" and "Go Away" show that. Like I said earlier, his vocals sound very different than later releases. He sounds almost like he's nervous in the studio, and he's not displaying his full vocal capabilities. A year later, he would sound way more confident in his singing abilities, and his charasmatic/sarcastic/eccentric voice would be the voice of Reel Big Fish.
Everything sucks is a pretty good album, but it suffers from 2 main flaws. The first one is that the production quality is so low it almost doesn't sound like the same band. Aaron's voice is barely recognizable, even when the instruments still osund like Reel Big Fish. The second flaw is that several of these songs were rerecorded for Turn the Radio Off, and these sound way better with higher quality production and some other added elements. I would say this is an album worth getting if you really like this band, but if you're a casual fan, you should stick with their other releases.