Review Summary: Ben Weasel still hates everyone
Over the last twenty-five or so years, Screeching Weasel have been widely regarded as one of the best pop-punk bands ever. Shelling out album after album of catchy, contempt-filled, pop punk anthems is simply what the boys in the Weasel crew do best. Needless to say, First World Manifesto does not break from tradition.
After suffering a line-up change and several legal disputes, Screeching Weasel fans and Ben Weasel himself find that John Jughead is no longer apart of the band. However, it has been reported that Jughead never really contributed to the writing process and is thankfully replaced by another Weasel regular, Dan Vapid.
Upon the first listen of First World Manifesto, you may find some similarities between this album earlier works like My Brain Hurts or Television City Dream. However, the first thing you may begin to notice right off the bat is the production quality; it's kickass. This significantly better production is usually an uncommon occurrence for a band such as Screeching Weasel. They’ve always swayed toward the more raw side of punk music. However, the songs are still the same: fast, melodic, and concise. The signature back-up vocals are still there and they even bring back some of the pianos and organ that you heard in My Brain Hurts.
The 90's skate anthem, "Totem Pole" really hearkens back to the early days of BoogadaBoogadaBoogada. The palm mutes and background "Aahs" are so incredible. There are moments in the song where everything just goes well together. The signature Weasel simplicity in the guitars and the background "Oohs". And the solo that follows is so incredibly catchy.
As far as lyrics are concerned, Ben Weasel still hates everyone, specifically his own scene. For most of the album he concentrates on belittling the hoards of punk posers and hipsters who leach of his beloved punk scene. "Little Big Man" is two minutes and forty something seconds of Weasel telling people that he is going to believe whatever he wants and basically tells all his critics to take a long walk off a short pier.
Brief moments of comedy to seep out, "Don't you Dare call me a clown or I'll have my lawyer shut your website down" will make anyone laugh; moreso because the background bass riff makes the lyrics, in a strange way, a whole lot funnier.
Admittedly, it does get rather old when Ben, song after song, spews bile all over his main scene. But if you are looking for some sort of intellectual stimulation from Screeching Weasel and First World Manifesto, expect little to none. Conversely, if there are loads of catchy riffs, pop-punk anthems dashed with bits of comedy, and punk nostalgia on your mind, pick up a copy of First World Manifesto as soon as you can. You will not be disappointed.