Review Summary: "There's always room for Jello" said Jello Biafra's mayoral campaign slogan. How exactly does this saying hold up today?
Jello Biafra is nothing less than a legend. Former frontman for hardcore punk pioneers Dead Kennedys, Jello has refused to stop since his departure from the band. He's had several side projects, plenty of collaborations and, of course, the Guantanamo School of Medicine, his only true full-time band nowadays. While still not touching Dead Kennedys in terms of quality, it gives us a good taste of Jello's usually impressive lyrical style.
With "White People and the Damage Done", you can see that his creativity in his lyrics are certainly slipping. Gone are the interesting and creative stories and settings of the days of yore. The lyrical stylings of this album seem more suited for a speech on one of Jello's spoken word albums. While these don't really feel like songs and more like speeches, these are still pretty well written and somewhat humorous songs about varying topics in the political world.
These include such classic, and honestly overdone, topics like Wall Street, corporations, and Hollywood overshadowing more important news in the world, but there are also some pretty interesting topics such as the Occupy movement, and some that just blatantly make fun of idiots such as "Crapture" which is about the Rapture predictions that have been happening over the past few years.
Speaking of which, "Crapture" is probably my favorite track on the album. It's got an ironically poppy and lighthearted beat as well as lyrics I, as a filthy atheist liberal scumbag, can certainly get behind, very blatantly making fun of the Christian right and how if the rapture DID happen, the world would be a better place with just the non-believers/"sinners" being left behind.
There are also some great tastes of good old fashioned punk rock in this. The title track reminds me a lot of 80's classic punk bands and it's very nice to hear in modern production quality. While this is nice, GSM plays it very, VERY safe here. There is an extreme lack of any innovation or ways to single it out from any of his other collabs and projects. A lot of it basically sounds like a less heavy version of his collab with the Melvins. Although the nice throwbacks to classic punk as well as some sections that remind me of Dead Kennedys like the high pitched riffs of "Hollywood Goof Disease" and the silliness and aggression of "Road Rage", are nice touches. These, along with "Crapture" which is probably one of the more creative songs on here, are certainly the highlights of the album.
"Shock-U-Py!" is a song that was originally released on the EP of the same name, and, while the rerelease wasn't necessary, this song is great nonetheless. It's the most speech like of the songs on here, but I just really like the "Get up and do something about it" message that it portrays. It's really catchy too and certainly has it's fair share of traits that separate it from the rest of the album.
There's one more main issue that I have with the lyrics: they feel very dated. You can clearly tell that these songs were written about a year ago, what with their references to Charlie Sheen, Occupy Wall Street, and the Rapture. These topics, while amusing while they lasted, are hardly relevant anymore save for the Occupy movement, but even that's hardly in the news at all anymore. Charlie Sheen was a played out internet joke for a few months, and the Rapture, while great to make fun of, was hardly even relevant when the "event" was taking place. At least it made for a fun song.
"White People and the Damage Done" isn't really anything new from Jello and his band, but it's certainly enjoyable for punk fans or fans of Jello and his writing. While the lyrics may be lacking, there may be a lack of innovation, and the album art may be disturbingly stupid, this is certainly an album you should give a look to, but try it before you buy it.