As sad as it is to see this, NOFX have become something of a joke in the pop-punk world. A band once thought of as the pioneers and carriers of a dying genre into a new generation are now seen as ranting Anti-Flag wannabes with nothing better to do than pedal more Bush propaganda. It's also sad that this overshadows most of their material. The quintet's 2003 effort The War On Errorism
was regarded as a stab at a political agenda, yet there are few songs on there which actively discuss the world's current state, and those are often quite sarcastic and not to serious. And even if Fat Mike thinks he is some sort of messiah to these blind kids with "Not My President" t-shirts on, why should that get in the way of a great pop-punk band's music?
2005 saw the band shift gears once more, releasing the 7" Of The Month Club, a poor subscription based collection of rushed vinyls with 2 songs each (Which would ultimately get ripped for all the teenagers who immediately have to look up "vinyl player" on Wikipedia). But 2006 might see a triumphant return to these aging punksters. Their album, Wolves in Wolves’ Clothing
, will be released later this year, and the traditional promotion EP is a sampler of what's to come. It contains 2 songs from the soon-to-be released full-length, along with 2 tracks from the exclusive 7" club and 2 made specifically for this EP.
I pulled up Winamp and hit the Play button, and held my breath as the first track began. Luckily the opening intro to "Seeing Double At The Triple Rock" is enthused with the melody, distortion and tempo you'd expect from a band like NOFX. They have no need to change a style that has helped them through 27 years, why change now? The song feels like it could've been taken from the band's earlier back catalogue, as Fat Mike's gritty singing accompanies an upbeat pop-punk riff. "The Marxist Brothers" feels much more ska-influenced, and because of this slower pace and lack of hasty licks, it clocks in at the joint-longest song on the EP (Along with "Golden Boys"). For 2 minutes this gives a taste of variety, albeit a slowly-structured one. It's hard to listen to thanks to the still-distorted guitar and Mike's harsh vocals, but it's a fun song still. Near the end, it speeds up and reminds us of the band we bought this EP for and from.
I felt a rush af comfort from the first 2 songs, putting more faith in the band for their future release, and let the next 2 play. I should note that these songs aren't new to me, but I'll review them anyway. "Golden Boys" is the political track I was both expecting and repelled by, but upon further listening, it is more than that. It's a catchy number with a more religious agenda, as Mike shouts loudly "Go-Go-Golden Boys/You’ve got your war toys" in the chorus. Credit where credit is due, they have written one hell of a pop-punk song which sticks in your head and has a clear yet clever message. It might not be original to bash the American government in the punk rock world, but NOFX have proven time and time again why they can get it out there so well. "You're Wrong" was one of my favourite tracks from the 7" club, consisting of a beautiful acoustic rhythm and very scandalous lyrics. It's probably my favourite song on this EP too, since it's so unique and it stands out against the other tracks. Besides which, here is where we see Fat Mike sans the sarcastic lyricary he's known for. It's hard to hate him for lyrics like "You're wrong fighting Jihad, your blind faith in God/Your religions are all flawed/You're wrong about drug use, when its not abuse/I hope you never reproduce". It's straight to the point, and the acoustic melody only strengthens the message they are singing about.
When the next track, "Everything In Moderation (Especially Moderation)", kicks off, it's easy to see why it didn't make the album. At just under a minute and a half, it's made up of a harder riff and very little change in terms of structure and musicianship. It sounds grittier, like it belongs on the EP, but that's not to say it isn't good. This is NOFX like they used to be; straight up and singing about punk rock. Still, that's what makes this song somewhat depressing to listen to. Hearing the lyrics "39/My hair should be parted not spiked and green/My nights should end at 10 and not 6 am" makes you wonder how long NOFX will last. It brings a tear to my eye, it really does. Finally, "I Am Going To Hell For This One" finishes this EP, and again is from the 7" club. Another favourite from said collection of songs, it's a tale of the man himself, Jesus Christ. It feels like a bridge for the band, since it features and mixes both the band's older more punk rock style and their newer smart and witty lyrics. And it's hard to hate a song with lyrics like "Jesus Christ is coming back/He wants to kick Mel Gibson's ass/Superstar, The Passion of/He wants his money, not your love".
This might not be the NOFX we knew and loved in the old days, the Punk In Drublic
days. But I'd get used to the newer stuff if you are still unsure. The band have proven time and time again with every release that they can still play well and write some amazingly catchy and intelligent pop-punk anthems. This EP is no different, and the only reason it's getting a 3.5 is because there is only so much that method can do for a band. This is the same NOFX style they have been playing for over 2 decades. There is nothing that new about it, but don't let that put you off. What we have here is a taster of things to come in April, and I am certain that will be worth getting your hands on if you even remotely like pop-punk. It's time for the teenage boys in girls jeans to move over and bow before their forefathers. NOFX are back, baby.
"Seeing Double At The Triple Rock", "You're Wrong", "I Am Going To Hell For This One"
[url]http://www.myspace.com/nofx[/url] (Songs to stream from review: "Seeing Double At The Triple Rock")