In any discussion on New Jersey punk, or even melodic hardcore in general, Lifetime is likely to be a main part in it, and if not should be. Since they formed in the early ‘90s they went on to influence many bands alike with their youthful energy and consistent albums that improved with each one. Jersey’s Best Dancers, released in 1997, was Lifetime’s last album in their original run before they broke up with members going on to form Kid Dynamite.
Jersey’s Best Dancers is a fairly short album, clocking in at about 25 minutes, but its presence in that time lasts much longer, and its replay value is top notch. Twelve songs of upbeat punk rock, its packed with some leaning more toward hardcore and others more toward pop punk, even if a number of songs sound a bit similar with a first listen. The overall energy put into the record is only rivaled by their live shows. Ari Katz gives his best vocal outing on record here, with many emotions of various ranges and not an overly harsh deliverance making the album not too difficult to get into. Dan and Pete are stable on guitar with their heavy, catchy and melodic guitar riffs executed perfectly on ‘Bringin’ It Backwards’ and ‘The Truth about Lars’ among others. While the central focus of the album and strong point is on the guitar and vocals, Dave shows some of his finest bass work on the Cut the Tension and ‘The Boy’s No Good’ while Scott is overall solid on drums.
Jersey’s Best Dancers best attribute is probably the amount of memorable songs on it. In the twelve songs here, not one is really sub par. Each having a different melody and pace, the band is really at their peak. As briefly aforementioned, songs tend to lean from their early hardcore roots to a more poppy sound. Bringin’ It Backwards
fits in the former and is a clear highlight, just because it rocks harder than just about any song here. On the other hand Young, Loud, And Scotty
is a more accessible, poppy tune but all the same just as good and one of the bands more noteworthy songs. 25 Cent Giraffes
focuses more on Ari and is another well composed song and actually fairly long for the album at 2:20. Other tracks include Hey Catrine
which possesses a heavy riff contrasted with Ari’s softer vocals and a catchy chorus. The Boy’s No Good
is a notable song with a more punk toned feel and backing vocals.
Theme Song for a New Brunswick Basement Show
is another standout on the album, if not for the actual song itself then the lyrics which capture the NJ punk scene in less than two minutes. The band does great at reaching on a personal level with their lyrics. Most of the songs are about relationships (Francie Nolan, 25 Cent Giraffes, Hey Catrine) but they do it better than most. While other songs tell about events of shows and other personal topics.
Short, emotional, fast, energetic, and fun, Lifetime’s Jersey’s Best Dancer is a superb punk album, simply put. Its blend of hardcore with the newer pop punk sound is done perfectly and the music is addictive as ever. An album as inspiring as it is influential; it’s one of the best albums to come out its background and can be enjoyed by virtually any remote fan of punk.