Review Summary: Undeniably catchy and fun ska that makes you feel like a kid again.
The Aquabats are not a very conventional band, even in the world of ska. Although they play fun, upbeat music similar to many bands like them in the 90’s, they also wear matching costumes and take on superhero personas. Just a peak at the eccentric album cover of eight grown men wearing masks , and the listener will know they’re in for something different. As if that’s not interesting enough, their breakthrough album, “The Fury of the Aquabats!”, also features longtime Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker who makes a great addition to the band.
Released in 1997, their second full length contains 15 infectious ska songs about everything from fighting villains to two-headed cats. Fronted by “The Bat Commander”, the album starts out with a bang as ‘Super Rad’ is one of the catchiest songs of the bunch. It’s made even better by Barker’s exceptional drum work and its sing along chorus. Thankfully, the vocalist proves to be competent as well with a confident voice that seems to be the perfect fit for the genre. Barker also shines on ‘Fight Song’ which is a minute long instrumental that focuses mainly on guitar and drums. Other songs like ‘Cat with 2 Heads’ or ‘Lobster Bucket’ are just plain fun and show off the bands sense of humor.
Perhaps the hardest thing to digest in this album are its lyrics. While other ska bands like Five Iron Frenzy or Reel Big Fish don’t have the most profound lyrics, they aren’t as downright silly as The Aquabats. In ‘Red Sweater’ we hear, “I met you in the third grade/ I didn’t know that you liked lemondade/ I met you another year later/ You wore a red sweater with an alligator”. It’s no secret these songs seem like they could have been written by a five year old, but that’s kind of the point. Clearly, the band is just about having a good time and they aren’t meant to be taken too seriously. I mean, you got that they are grown men wearing costumes, right?
I’ll admit The Aquabats are an acquired taste but if you aren’t too critical and you accept this album for what it is, there’s a lot to be enjoyed here. “The Fury of The Aquabats” is arguably the bands best release to date. It’s both energetic and playful and it’s bound to make you feel like a kid again.