Review Summary: Knife Man takes the band forward in an interesting, and good direction. They have evolved immensely with each album, and I love them more than ever with this new release.
"If your Hustler subscription and your Xanax prescription make you feel lonelier instead... you don't want to hear about all those starving children. You don't want to be told that it's all in your head, cause if it's all in your head... that's terrible." - People II 2: Still Peoplin'
Sean Bonnette and Ben Gallaty are Andrew Jackson Jihad. They love people, or, they love the emotions that being a people connotes. They sing songs about people, politics, life, death, and many other generally depressing topics. But more importantly, they do it well. Very well; but more on that later. We've got a lot to cover here.
Andrew Jackson Jihad's first album, Candy Cigarettes and Cap Guns (2005) was filled to the brim with dark humor, philosophic lyrics, and acoustic instruments. Lots of acoustic instruments. However, it also sounds like it was recorded by some college kids in their living room with a $20 microphone. 2007's People That Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World saw better production, better lyrics, and was a large improvement in the band's sound (Survival Song is my third most played track according to last.fm). Can't Maintain (2009) was the band's transition to a more electric instrumentation (also DRUMS). They also have about a million splits/EPs/singles/etc. that I'm not going to go into. One of the few things that all of these albums have in common is that they are all fantastic.
Knife Man holds true to that.
Knife Man follows quite well in Can't Maintain's rather electric footsteps with it's instrumentation, and the lyrics are fantastic as always. "I hate whiny songs like this, but I can't afford a therapist. Sorry guys, here's a solo.". While I mentioned that Knife Man has a far more electric sound to it, the guys don't completely ditch acoustic songs, which are great as well. I have one or two problems with the album, however. The major gripe is the song structure. Several of the songs on Knife Man use the same chord progressions as previous songs. I.E. "Zombie By The Cranberries By Andrew Jackson Jihad" has the exact same bass line as "People" from People That Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World, and "Sad Songs (Intermission)" borrows heavily from "Ladykiller" on Candy Cigarettes and Cap Guns. This problem aside, several of the songs on Knife Man are still very original, and step out of the band's comfort zone. The closer, "Big Bird" has a choir in the background. "Back Pack" (which is a super depressing song, might I add) has some interesting vocal effects as well.
Knife Man takes the band forward in an interesting, and good direction. They have evolved immensely with each album, and I love them more than ever with this new release.