The Aquabats
. . . Vs. the Floating Eye of Death!


4.5
superb

Review

by Clumpy USER (29 Reviews)
March 15th, 2005 | 16 replies


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Meticulously-Crafted New Wave From the Ultimate Supergroup

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"Ichi, ni, san, shi - Everybody sing with me!"
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THE AQUABATS PULL off the superhero gig well. Their campy style pulls elements of Japanese monster movies, the original Batman television show and ska culture into a unique blend. The cover of this album, featuring a tableau of our heroes in various "super" poses, is vintage Aquabats; cool, yet wacky. (The back cover, featuring an equally-inspiring tableau of villains, is something else altogether.)

These surf-rocking, monster-fighting, world-saving, peace-loving superheroes are poised to conquer the world, and manage to put out some pretty darn good music in the process. I won't mince words: "The Aquabats vs. The Floating Eye of Death" is one of my favorite records ever. My criteria for a classic record is an evolved form of "three good songs, no bad songs"; If I can comfortably listen to an album anytime without boredom, it's a keeper.

These eight (sometimes nine) heroes, exiled from their lost homeland of Aquabania (invaded by the evil Space Monster "M" and his cronies - don't ask), have set out to capture the hearts and minds of the unwilling populace with their hypnotizing music rays. I say - give in.

This musical release is best described by contradictions: it's one of their most mainstream releases, yet it's one of their most eclectic records yet. It keeps some of the feel of the campy, fast-paced surf-rock of their previous releases, while conquering new musical ground with unique instrumentations, a different style in virtually every song, and a new, somewhat darker (yet still bravely optimistic) style. If you want music to make you feel good, if you want cool rhythms and lyrics, if you simply want some absurdity (and believe me, The Aquabats have got plenty), look no further.

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"Uno, dos, tres, four - time to go again once more!"
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THIS ALBUM HAS virtually no tiresome points - from the album's winding, sound-sampling introduction with the awesome "Sequence Erase" (complete with a marimba and almost Deftones-like vocals in the intro, before kicking into the signature Aquabats trumpets and ringing guitars), you know right away - this is going to be a different kind of record. The voice of the Bat Commander (Christian Jacobs to his friends) is somehow perfect; putting inflection in just the right places for the melody, he gives even the strangest songs a sense of depth. Still, this isn't a depth-concerned record; The Aquabats don't deal in obnoxiously-sophisticated imagery or depressing poetry. If it were scientifically possible to condense pure, unadulterated "fun" into a disc, the results would read much like this release.

Speaking of which, the fun carries over onto the CD itself, which has the coolest design I've ever seen on a record; the album is shaped like a giant eye - quite the conversation piece.

The track summaries will give you more information about how the tracks stack up as a whole, but first, one quick explanation. Yes, I give generally high reviews, for one reason:

I've never bought a bad album. I'm not kidding; through a combination of file-sharing (before I quit out of fear of the RIAA), free music distributed from bands and borrowed from friends, and scrupulous research, I've never bought a music CD I felt strongly dissatisfied with. Besides, I'm not going to write a review of a record I feel lukewarm about, am I"

Now, on to the track reviews, after a little. . .

*USELESS FAN TRIVIA*: The original drummer for The Aquabats up to the late mid-nineties was none other than Travis Barker, now-drummer for mainstream punk band Blink 182. Needless to say, I think The Aquabats kick them to the curb in nearly every way, musical- and non-musical.

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TRACK REVIEWS (Content reviews, not numerical)
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Sequence Erase:
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The record opens in a phenomenal way, building up much better than the pounding surf intro of previous 'Bats records - a gradual, winding guitar intro. A fast-paced marimba (electronic xylophone) kicks in briefly, followed by the main wailing riff of the song. The song is about a sinister conspiracy, and the mood sets up perfectly with the song, setting up the whole album as a more rock-oriented affair.

The lyrics are suitably paranoid toward the time-destroying plot:

"These heroes, changing, recognize we've been so undermined. Danger walking blind. But those hands on the clock, give no room, no thought. No words. No mind. No age. Sequence erased. NO TIME."

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Giant Robot-Birdhead
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Another favorite on the record, and the inspiration for the title (it's the only song on the album that directly mentions the Floating "Eye" of Death, although the album's art includes the Eye copiously). The Aquabats face the fearsome threat had come from above ( "Out of the sky, the Floating Eye, will prophesy and pretend that this is the end. The people run; run to the hills. Run for their lives - flee the horrible eye!" ).

For large-scale combat, the 'Bats are forced to use their creation, the "giant robot with a bird-like head". It sets off to save the world, "The guardian of careless men who run the world like a cartoon show."

This is a very fast-paced song, with a much lighter mood than Sequence Erase, despite all of the robotic carnage described in the lyrics. I went out and bought the CD immediately after hearing this song - it's that great.

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Anti-Matter
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The title is a pun, about how material things don't matter (a common theme with The Aquabats). The song is an optimistic song, almost as much so as another great on the album, "Hello, Good Night". The lyrics are stupidly - and confidently - optimistic, a call to ignore those who value "stuff":

"High school kids, do you got enough,
Of all the silly monkeys who think they're tough,
And teen-queen babies who whine and whine,
About the brand-new car that works just fine""

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Lotto Fever
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A slower song (with a fast chorus), about a magic fish from a "bottle of noodles" who grants wishes. The singer immediately wishes for everything in the world, then wakes up to find the bottle - and the fish - gone. The protagonist is unfazed, and sticks with the theme of the song: "It doesn't get much better than this." Quite an upbeat-themed song.

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Lovers of Loving Love
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The Aquabats take nothing seriously, and this - the traditional "silly love song" of the album, is intentionally over-sappy, seeming almost to mimic the overly-happy mood of 50s love songs. The 'Bats make it their own with humorous lyrics: "I'm so happy, I'm so happy that I'm a boy, and you're a girl - all right!" Vintage Aquabats.

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Chemical Bomb
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This song - possibly my favorite on the album - has a fairly dark, apocalyptic theme. Actually a slower version of a song originally written years ago by the band (see "The Wild Sea" on the Aquabats B-Sides album "Myths and Legends" for the original version), the song is a departure for The Aquabats. Very introspective, the song focuses on a dream by the singer, depicting the end of the world. The chorus manages to be sickly funny: "Chemical bomb, chemical bomb. Eyes melt, skin explodes, everybody dead." The song is so subdued and melodious, the lyrics so dark, they remind me of the famous Tom Waits quote: "I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things."

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The Man With Glooey Hands
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This is definitely the fastest song on the album. It's infectiously quick and catchy, with less melody than expected, yet it manages to work. The lyrics speak for themselves:

"(Stuck together!) You and me!
(Always together!) Like honey and bees!
(Forever and ever!) Can't you see"
We were meant to be, but you tried to leave!

(Stuck together!) It was easy to do!
(Always together!) New and improved!
(Together forever!) With hands of glue,
The kind of glue that you can't remove!"

The song is definitely the fastest-paced song I can think of in years, and no other band could pull it off.

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Monsters Wedding
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A Transylvania-themed song opening with a dialogue featuring the "Flying Dracula", presenting the story of a "man taken against his will, and forced . . . to MARRY!" A man is taken through the "unknown portal" and forced to wed a monster. Haunting background vocals and monster-like sounds make the song quite interesting. The Aquabats certainly have range. The song's bridge is actually taken from the early unreleased The Aquabats song "I Love the Monster".

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The Ballad of Mr. Bonkers
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Blatantly influenced by Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and featuring similar progression, this ballad about (to judge by the box's art) the lost dreams of a scorpion is quite interesting. The introductory segment sounds like old music from "Sesame Street", and kicks into the faster segment, again reminiscent of "Bohemian Rhapsody". The end is more rock-oriented, with power chords and - of course - the signature Aquabats trumpets. A very fun song.

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Canis Lupus
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This is my least favorite song on the record, but I still enjoy it. It seems a little out of place with the more fantasy-oriented feel of the rest of the tracks on the album. It's basically an ode to dogs throughout history. "Canis lupus - the domestication of the dog; we all love dogs!" The song doesn't stand out much against the other, much flashier songs, but the vocal bridge makes the song tolerable.

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Tiny Pants
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This may be the strangest The Aquabats song ever - I still give the edge to "Lobster Bucket" from The Fury of the Aquabats, but, really, "Tiny Pants" is quite strange. The Bat Commander uses Elvis-like vocals throughout the whole song, and the chorus, featuring high-pitched, squeaky-voiced people, is in Japanese. That's understandable; the song is about a man who meets a race of tiny people while on a walk. This song will get people near you walking toward the radio and saying incredulously: "What the heck is this""

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The Thing on the Bass Amp
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This song is a favorite of mine, possibly a metaphor about the effect of television of the public mind. It reminds me of "Monster Wedding" a tad - a supernatural theme, dark undertones and eccentric vocals. The sound clip used during the bridge is nearly unintelligible, but somehow fits the song. This song would be a great dance number.

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Amino Man
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A song about the gradual self-destruction of a muscle-obsessed "goon", "Amino Man" was written by Dexter Holland of The Offspring. His mark is evident, the song has an Offspring-like feel. Elements of Devo also manifest themselves in this song - another giant influence of The Aquabats. Musically and lyrically, it's almost perfect, both as a warning and a mini-biography:

"In the mirror he sees himself, turning into something else . . . Chemicals help him cut back on the pain, but he got so big, he ran out of skin to strain. He popped his brain!"

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Hello, Good Night
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A very unusual song for The Aquabats, "Hello, Good Night" is a slow-paced song with a music-box intro, subdued Hawaiian guitars and a non-wacky theme. The song's subject, optimism through trials, manages to somehow be inspiring and serious without clashing with the rest of the album. It's a great closing piece for the album, comparable to - this is a bad comparison - "Only in Dreams", Weezer's first album-closer. It's a great, happy song, but realistic, and I close this review with part of the chorus:

"And with each passing day, so goes another life.
Everybody wants to live. Some people wait to die.
So close your eyes, 'cause it's all right to say
'hello, goodnight.' "

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Thanks for reading my review. Please vote if you liked it!
Contact the author of this review at mrclumpy@gmail.com
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user ratings (93)
Chart.
3.4
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other reviews of this album
Number1Joker (5)
Well there you have it thats the entire album. Overall this is an amazing album. Best I have eve...



Comments:Add a Comment 
Arucard
March 15th 2005


581 Comments


Best. Review. Ever.

A great cd too, i love geekcore!

/Makes up a genre.

cbmartinez
March 15th 2005


2525 Comments


I don't like ska but I sure do love the Aquabats!

Clumpy
March 15th 2005


76 Comments


Thank you. I'm going to finish off the reviews for The Aquabats. If I get around to it, expect my "The Fury of the Aquabats" review in a couple of days.

Zaine
October 23rd 2005


199 Comments


this album changed my life. im not alone is singing pretending like a superhero fighting gigantic emulations of the human anatomy. so there is a god. anyway the review is practically flawless and the aquabats are seriously one of the best ska bands since RBF. its generally a cycle of neverending greatness.

Desensitized
November 23rd 2005


136 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is is one heck of a grower. But, it's fantastic when it does.



Great review, I must say.

Zebra
Moderator
November 23rd 2005


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I agree, this is a heck of a grower. Now that it has grown on me it is my favorite Aquabats album.



At first I was sorely upset at the lack of horns. It took me a few months to adjust to the sound but after that I really started to like the album. The Aquabats are one of my favorite bands and I don't consider them a guilty pleasure band.



"Lovers of Loving Love" and "Hello, Goodnight" are my favorites.



Excellent review.

JumpTheF**kUp
November 19th 2006


2722 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The Aquabats are excellent. "Giant Robot-Birdhead!", "The Ballad of Mr Bonkers!" and "Anti Matter!" are all great songs. This album is quite good (understatement).



Oh and, as always, very good review.This Message Edited On 11.19.06

MrKite
October 24th 2007


5020 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I agree, this is a heck of a grower.


I liked this the minute I heard it



I love the DEVO influence.This Message Edited On 10.24.07

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
October 24th 2007


4940 Comments


This band is worthless and straight up bad. A bunch of fucking 30 year olds acting like they are 7. At least HORSE the band makes their child antics humorous and can muster decent songwriting.

MrKite
October 24th 2007


5020 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Harsh enough for you, Mr. Flatley?

cbmartinez
October 24th 2007


2525 Comments


the aquabats are way more fun than HORSE

Yield
November 23rd 2007


626 Comments


The chorus manages to be sickly funny: "Chemical bomb, chemical bomb. [bold]Eyes melt, skin explodes, everybody dead[/bold]." The song is so subdued and melodious, the lyrics so dark, they remind me of the famous Tom Waits quote: "I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things."


That's a line from Repo Man

Vibration
April 24th 2011


26 Comments


My younger siblings enjoy this album tremendously. Kids and adults can love it. Something very rare with music.

Blackbelt54
December 12th 2013


4281 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

even though my rating is not much higher than the average, this might be the most underrated album ever

DinosaurJones
July 6th 2016


9910 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Chemical Bomb is dark as hell, man.

Winesburgohio
Contributing Reviewer
July 21st 2016


2193 Comments


i think it's time to recognise as a site that although Zebra's reviewing nous left something to be desired he had extremely good taste

Digging: Jandek - The Myth of Blue Icicles



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